D. R. Wijewardena

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Don Richard Wijewardana
Don Richard Wijewardana (1886-1950).jpg
Born Don Richard Wijewardana
(1886-02-23)23 February 1886
Died 13 June 1950(1950-06-13) (aged 64)
Nationality Ceylonese
Ethnicity Sinhalese
Alma mater S. Thomas' College, Mutwal
University of Cambridge
Occupation Businessperson, entrepreneur
Known for Lake House
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Spouse(s) Alice Meedeniya
Children Two sons and Three daughters
Parent(s) Don Philip Wijewardana (Father)
Helena Weerasinghe (Mother)

Don Richard Wijewardena (Sinhala:දොන් රිච්ඩ් විජෙවර්ධන) (23 February 1886 – 13 June 1950) was a Sri Lankan press baron who was a leader in the Sri Lankan independence movement. A successful entrepreneur, he established Lake House newspapers and played a major role in the independence movement.


The young Wijewardena attended the prestigious St Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia.
Don Richard Wijewardena went on to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
D.R.Wijewardena along with another Sri Lankan freedom fighter E.W.Perera, successfully traced the banner of the last King of Sri Lanka. It subsequently became the flag of the Dominion of Ceylon.

D. R. Wijewardena was born as the third male child of seven sons and two daughters Muhandiram Tudugalage Don Philip Wijewardene timber merchant of Sedavatta and Helena Weerasinghe. He lost his father at a very young age and was raised by his mother.

His brothers were Don Philip Alexander, Don Lewis, Don Charles, Don Edmund, Don Albert and Don Walter and his sisters were Mrs. Arthur Seneviratne and Mrs. E. W. Jayewardene who was the mother of J. R. Jayewardene who would later become President of Sri Lanka. He married Alice Meedeniya, daughter of J. H. Meedeniya Adigar, with whom he had two sons and three daughters, his grandson Ranil Wickremasinghe would later become Prime Minister of Sri Lanka


D.R.Wijewardena founded the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, at Lake House in Colombo.

Wijewardena received his primary education at the Sedavatta school after which like all his brothers, completed his secondary education at St.Thomas College Mt.Lavinia.[1][2][3]

He then went on to University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom for higher education. There he developed his interest in politics and met famous personalities such as future leaders of India like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bepin Chandra Pal, Surendranath Banerji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. After graduating he became a Barrister at the Inner Temple.

Political career[edit]

In 1913 Wijewardena was elected Secretary of the Ceylon National Association, marking his formal entry into politics and together with it's President Sir James Peiris he agitated for constitutional reform and self rule.[4]

D. R. Wijewardena, and E. W. Perera traced the location of the banner of last King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe, the last king of the Kingdom of Kandy to the Royal Hospital Chelsea where it was kept since the surrender of the Kingdom to the British in 1815. The recovered banner became a focal point in the independence movement and it became the flag of the Dominion of Ceylon upon its independence in 1948.[5]

Wijewardena was in touch with local events and organised the first deputation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies with Mr. H. J. C. Pereira along with E. W. Perera. As a result of lobbying benefits Ceylonese were given another concession of a seat in the British dominated legislative council.

To this seat majority of the Sinhala people elected Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan against Sir (Dr) Marcus Fernando. He would later organise a second deputation too. He was also instrumental in starting the Temperance movement and the Amadyapa Sabha.

Media Baron[edit]

Returning to Ceylon he established the Ceylon Daily News an English language daily and bought its primary competition Ceylon Independent. Together with is brother D. C. Wijewardena he took over the Sinhala language daily Dinamina. This was followed by the publication of a Tamil language daily.

The publishing company he established was named after it headquarters along the banks of Beira Lake was named the Lake House Group with its newspaper arm Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]