The Last Colonial

The Last Colonial

Curious Adventures and Stories From A Vanishing World

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
This autobiography of the businessman, philanthropist and adventurer describes his life growing up on a tea plantation in Ceylon, his commercial triumphs in Canada and his perilous travels and explorations through India and Africa.

Norton Pub
An autobiography in essays by this renowned explorer and biographer of the British colonial period.
Christopher Ondaatje is a true child of the British Empire. Born in Ceylon in 1933 and brought up on a tea plantation, he was sent as a teenager to boarding school in England. But soon after Ceylon was granted its independence in 1948, his family found themselves destitute, and the young Ondaatje left school and got a job. In 1956 he made his way to Canada with just thirteen dollars in his pocket. From this improbable beginning there followed a series of commercial triumphs until 1988 when he abruptly abandoned high finance at the peak of his career and reinvented himself as an explorer and author, focusing mainly on the colonial period.It is the curious encounters behind these often precarious adventures that make up The Last Colonial. The stories tell of Ondaatje’s childhood days in Ceylon, his early life in Canada, his fascination with inexplicable events and local superstitions, and his sometimes perilous travels researching biographies of Ernest Hemingway in Africa, Leonard Woolf in Ceylon, and Sir Richard Burton in India and Africa.Complemented by the artist Ana Maria Pacheco’s magical, sometimes disturbing illustrations, the stories conjure up a truly unique portrait of a world that is vanishing forever.

Book News
The son of a British tea planter, author and adventurer Ondaatje was born and raised in Ceylon during its colonial period; his family was left penniless when Ceylon became independent in 1948. Ondaatje eventually immigrated to Canada, founded Pagurian Press (later Pagurian Corporation), wrote nine books, and became a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. He was also an Olympic bobsledder in 1964. In the short nonfiction stories collected here, his adventures around the world bring him in contact with rare wildlife, local superstitions, and supernatural occurrences. Illustrating each story are unusual color paintings by Ana Maria Pacheco, adding another 'curious' element to stories of devil birds, curses, ill-fated human remains, and Ondaatje's literary detective research into Hemingway's and Richard Burton's travels in Africa, India, and Syria. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: London : Thames & Hudson, c2011
ISBN: 9780500251867
Branch Call Number: 814.54 OND
Characteristics: 256 p. :,col. ill. ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Pacheco, Ana Maria 1943-


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Jun 16, 2017

Very "curious" anecdotes from the life of a contemporary "Renaissance" man. The paintings that illustrate each short anecdote are rather crude; and it is too bad that the author didn't choose to complement his tales with his personal photographs. The book lacks an index.

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