Anne Ranasinghe – Biography


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.


Anneliese Katz was born in 2 October 1925 in Essen, Germany, to a Jewish family. 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.

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.


Ranasinghe began her writing career in the late 1960s after obtaining a Diploma in Journalism from Colombo Technical College. In 1971, she published her first poem collection, And the Sun That Sucks The Earth to Dry. Some of Ranasinghe’s well known poems include July 1983Plead 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.


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. She was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the nation’s only federal civilian award.

You can read Anne Ranasinghe’s poetry here