An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center
Dominic Francis Moraes was born July 19, 1938, in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, to Frank Moraes, an attorney and journalist, and Beryl Moraes, a doctor. The family moved often during Moraes' childhood, and he traveled extensively with his father, the editor of The Times of India, especially to Australia and Southeast Asia. Moraes began writing poetry at age twelve and attended a Jesuit high school. At age eighteen he entered Oxford University where he met the influential poets W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender, who encouraged his work. Moraes' first published poem appeared in Spender's literary magazine Encounter, and his first book of poetry, A Beginning, was published in 1957. This book received the Hawthornden Prize, making Moraes, at nineteen, the youngest and first non-English writer to win the award.
Subsequent books of poetry included Poems (1960), John Nobody (1965), and Beldam Etcetera (1966). Moraes also worked in prose, writing two autobiographies, Gone Away (1960), and My Son's Father (1968). In the early 1960s, he turned to journalism in order to make a living and wrote articles about London and British culture for The Times of India and Illustrated Weekly of India. He also worked as a war correspondent, covering conflicts in Algeria, Israel, and Vietnam. While in Israel, he reported on the trial of Adolf Eichmann and translated work by the Hebrew poet T. Carmi (pseudonym of Carmi Charny).
In addition to his journalism, Moraes worked as a scriptwriter for several television programs and films and continued to publish non-fiction work, such as a biography of Indira Gandhi, Mrs. Gandhi (1980), and a third autobiography, Never at Home (1992). In the late 1970s, he returned to live in India and began to focus again on poetry. In 1987, he published a collection of poems written from 1957 to 1987, and in 2001 published Cinnamon Shade: New and Selected Poems, which earned the Sahitya Akedemi Award, India's highest literary prize. During this period he also collaborated with his companion, Sarayu Srivatsa, who considered Moraes her mentor.
Moraes was diagnosed with cancer in the early 2000s but refused treatment. He died of a heart attack on June 2, 2004.
The Dom Moraes Collection contains handwritten and typed drafts of poetry, journal articles, screenplays, translations, and published and unpublished books. The materials are written in English and date from circa 1956 to 1965.
The collection is arranged into two series: I. Works, and II. Correspondence. The Works series comprises almost the entirety of the collection and documents Moraes' early writing and career. Included are manuscripts for Moraes' poetry books A Beginning (1957) and John Nobody (1965), and numerous articles written for Indian newspapers. Also present are drafts of several unpublished works, translations, and television scripts. Numerous notebooks contain handwritten poems, some dating before Moraes' enrollment at Oxford. Materials are in alphabetical order either by published title or under one of the following three headings: Articles, Poetry, or Screenplays.
Series II. Correspondence consists of six letters concerning travel arrangements in 1957. Additional letters relating specifically to his journalism are located in the Articles folder in the Works series.
Open for research. Some items are fragile or torn, and care should be taken when handling these papers. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days notice for access in the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material: firstname.lastname@example.org
Purchases, 1964, 1966 (R1985, R1986, R2081, R2093, R2145, R2899)
Nicole Davis, Jaime Pereira, Katherine Risseeuw, 2007, updated by Betsy Nitsch, 2012