Anne Ranasinghe

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Anne Ranasinghe
Born Anneliese Katz
(1925-10-02)2 October 1925
Essen, Germany
Died 17 December 2016(2016-12-17) (aged 91)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Occupation Poet
Language English
Nationality Sri Lankan
Notable awards State Literary Award 1994

Anne Ranasinghe (born Anneliese Katz; 2 October 1925 – 17 December 2016) was a Jewish-German born Sri Lankan English language poet. She is considered as one of Sri Lanka's leading poet in English, having won several international awards.

Early life[edit]

Anneliese Katz was born in 2 October 1925 in Essen, Germany, to a Jewish family.[1] A victim of Nazi Germany's atrocities against Jews, she witnessed the Kristallnacht (night of broken glass), the burning of the Essen synagogue. In 1939, her parents sent her to England to an aunt she had never seen before. Within a week she was sent to a school 140 miles away to live among strangers and to learn English, a new language to her. Within six months World War II broke out and much later she would learn that her parents had been murdered by the Nazis.[2]

Anne completed her studies at Parkstone Grammar School and trained to become a nursing sister at Charing Cross Hospital, King's College, Moorfields, Chelsea and Burden Neurological Institute.[3]

Literary work[edit]

Ranasinghe began her writing career in the late 1960s after obtaining a Diploma in Journalism from Colombo Technical College.[4] In 1971, she published her first poem collection, And the Sun That Sucks The Earth to Dry.[5] Some of Ranasinghe's well known poems include July 1983, Plead Mercy (1974), A Long Hot Day and At What Dark Point (1970). She has published 12 books and have been translated into several languages in seven countries.[6]

From 1975, Ranasinghe worked for the Amnesty International's South Asian Publications Service in Sri Lanka.[4]


Ranasinghe was awarded Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Poetry in 1985 and again in 1992 and also for non-fiction in 1987. She won the Sri Lankan State Literary Award for best collection of short stories in 1994.[7] Also she has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the nation's only federal civilian award.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1949, Anne married D. A. Ranasinghe, a post-graduate student who would later become a lecturer and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Colombo Medical School, and moved to Sri Lanka.[2][3] She has seven children, four of her own and three from her husband's previous marriage.[4] Her own four children are sons Ananda and Nihal, and daughters Shanthi and Renuka, and all of them live abroad.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

Anne Ranasinghe died 17 December 2016 in her Colombo residence in Rosmead Place, at age of 91.[6] Sri Lankan school children study her poems for their English literature course work in GCE Ordinary Level.[9]


  • Mascot and Symbol. 1997.
  • Desire and other Stories. 1994, reprint 1995.
  • You Ask Me Why I Write Poems. 1994.
  • The Letter and Other Stories. 1994.
  • At What Dark Point. 1991, reprinted and updated 1996.
  • Not Even Shadows. 1991.
  • Against Eternity and Darkness. 1985, reprinted 1985, 1988, 1996.
  • Of Charred Wood Midnight Fear. 1983.
  • Love, Sex and Parenthood. 1978.
  • Plead Mercy. 1975.
  • With Words We Write Our Lives Past, Present, Future. 1972.
  • Poems - And a Sun That Sucks The Earth to Dry. 1971



  1. ^ Perera, Yohan (2016-12-19). "Anne Ranasinghe passes away". Daily Mirror. Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Anne Ranasinghe". Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Simms, Norman (1988). "Anne Ranasinghe: Jewish poet of Sri Lanka; Three strands in a literary corpus". Journal of South Asian Literature. 23 (1): 94–107. JSTOR 40873030. 
  4. ^ a b c Robinson, LeRoy (September 1990). "An Interview with Anne Ranasinghe on Aspects of Culture in Sri Lanka" (PDF). Keiei-to-keizai. 70 (2): 39–77. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Death of Anne Ranasinghe". Daily news. The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c "In Memoriam: Anne Ranasinghe". Front Page. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Anne Ranasinghe, 1925-". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Prins, R. Stephen (October 10, 2010). "Birthday soirée for poet Anne Ranasinghe". Sunday Times. Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  9. ^ Perera, Vihanga. "Factors of Class-Elitism in Anne Ranasinghe's Poetry: In Defense of Some Opinions Fielded by Dhanuka Bandara". Retrieved 20 December 2016.