Dom Moraes

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Dominic Francis "Dom" Moraes (19 July 1938 – 2 June 2004) was an Indian writer and poet who wrote in the English language. He published nearly 30 books. Moraes is widely seen as a foundational figure in Indian English literature. His poems are a meaningful and substantial contribution to Indian and World literature.

Early life[edit]

Moraes was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) to Beryl and Frank Moraes, former editor of the Times of India. His aunt was the historian Teresa Albuquerque.[1] He attended the city's St. Mary's School and then left for England to enroll in Jesus College, Oxford.

Moraes spent eight years in Britain, in London and Oxford, New York City, Hong Kong, Delhi and Bombay now Mumbai.


He edited magazines in London, Hong Kong and New York. He became the editor of The Asia Magazine in 1971. He scripted and partially directed over 20 television documentaries for the BBC and ITV. He was a war correspondent in Algeria, Israel and Vietnam. In 1976 he joined the United Nations.

Moraes conducted one of the first interviews of the Dalai Lama after the Tibetan spiritual leader fled to India in 1959. The Dalai Lama was then 23 and Moraes, 20.

Later life[edit]

He had a lifelong battle with alcoholism. Moraes suffered from cancer, but refused treatment and died from a heart attack in Bandra, Mumbai. He was buried in the city's Sewri Cemetery and as per his last wishes Sarayu Srivatsa buried the soil from his grave in Odcombe, Somerset, on 19 July 2002 (his birthdate).[2] Many of Dom's old friends and publishers attended the memorial service in Odcombe. A headstone in yellow Jaisalmer stone lies embedded in the front lawn of the church to mark the service.[citation needed]

In 1961-62 he was one of the very few public Indian figures to strongly criticize the Indian Army takeover of Goa, land of his forefathers- Daman and Diu from Portuguese India. He tore up his Indian passport on TV in protest.[3] He was later allowed back in the country.

When the Gujarat riots erupted in 2002, with their heavy toll of Muslim dead, Moraes left for Ahmedabad the minute the news came through, claiming that since he was a Catholic, Muslims would not see him as an enemy. Even though he was physically in considerable pain by then, he was one of the first on the scene.[4]

Moraes ended his writing career, writing books in collaboration with Sarayu Srivatsa.

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, aged 18, he was courted by Henrietta Moraes. They married in 1961. He left her, according to his close friends in London, but did not divorce her.[citation needed] He had a son, Heff Moraes, with his second wife Judith. He later married celebrated Indian actress and beauty Leela Naidu and they were a star couple, known across several continents, for over two decades. Their marriage ended in a separation.[5]


  • 1958: A Beginning, his first book of poems (winner of the Hawthornden Prize)
  • 1960: Poems, his second book of poems
  • 1960: Gone Away: An Indian Journey, memoir
  • 1965: John Nobody, his third book of poems
  • 1967: Beldam & Others, a pamphlet of verse
  • 1983: Absences, book of poems
  • 1987: Collected Poems: 1957-1987 (Penguin)
  • 1992: Out of God's Oven: Travels in a Fractured Land, co-author Sarayu Srivatsa
  • 2003: The Long Strider, co-author Sarayu Srivatsa
  • Heiress to Destiny, biography of Indira Gandhi
  • Never at Home, memoir
  • My Son's Father, memoir

Awards and recognitions[edit]


External links[edit]