Michael Ondaatje Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Michael Ondaatje

Birthday :

September 12, 1943

Also Known For :

Novelist, Poet

Birth Place :

Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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Early Years and Education

Philip Michael Ondaatje was born 12th September 1943, in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Ondaatje lived with relatives until 1954 as his parents were separated soon after his birth. In 1954, he moved to England to live with his mother. His education in England was undertaken at Dulwich College.

In 1962 he moved to Canada, settling in Montreal. He continued his education at Bishop’s University in Quebec for three years and then transferred to the University of Toronto. He graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts. He then attended Queen’s University in Ontario, and he graduated in 1967 with his master’s.



Michael Ondaatje returned to the UK and took up a position at the University of Western Ontario in London, teaching English. In 1971, he joined York University, teaching English literature.

He started his writing career with poetry. He released The Dainty Monsters in 1967. He has published 13 works of poetry, including, The Collected Works of Billy, the Kid: Left-Handed Poems (1970) and The Cinnamon Peeler (1989). He has published seven novels, the most famous being The English Patient (1992) which was adapted into a movie and went on to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Ondaatje has had several of his works adapted into stage productions, including, Coming Through Slaughter and Divisadero. He has also had several of his works adapted into films.


Awards and Honors

Michael Ondaatje has won countless awards for his writing, and among his honors, he has been awarded Officer of the Order of Canada. Among his literary awards, he has the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, and the St. Louis Literary Award.



Michael Ondaatje first wife was named Kim, and he has two children with her. His second wife is Linda Spalding, also a writer.

From 2000 to 2018, Ondaatje was involved with the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, serving as a founding member.

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