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Ruskin Bond

 

Born on May 19, 1934 in pre-independence India, Ruskin Bond is the quintessential Indian writer in English and a lifelong lover of India. He came into this world in a military hospital in Kasauli to Edith Clerke Aubrey Alexander Bond.

Bond spent his early childhood in Jamnagar, Dehradun and Shimla. His parents divorced when he was young and he had a rather solitary childhood. In 1944, Ruskin’s father passed away, succumbing to malaria. He was raised by his mother (who remarried an Indian businessman), and other relatives. He completed his schooling at Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, from where he graduated in 1952.

Ruskin’s love for books and writing had come early to him, since father always surrounded him with books and encouraged him to write little descriptions of the nature, as he took Rusty on hikes around the hills. It was after school, that he began to carve out a niche as a writer.

Soon after his schooling, Ruskin left India to live in London. There, he took up odd jobs like working for a travel agency and a photo shop. He lived there for four years, but memories of India continuously haunted and overwhelmed him.

Bond wrote his first story, Room On The Roof at the age of 17. It won him instant recognition and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1957, awarded to a British Commonwealth writer under 30. The book captured the vibrant mystique of the Himalayas, and evidently earned him his passage to India too. With the money that he earned from this book, he bought a ticket to India- his home for the rest of his life.

Upon returning, Bond chose to settle in the charming landscape of Dehra Dun and begin his career as a freelance writer. He wrote Vagrants in the Valley, as a sequel to The Room on the Roof. These two novels were published in one volume by Penguin India in 1993. The following year his much-acclaimed collection of his non-fiction writings, Rain In The Mountains, Delhi Is Not Far, The Best Of Ruskin Bond was also published by Penguin India. His interest in the paranormal led him to write popular titles like 'Ghost Stories from the Raj', 'A Season of Ghosts', 'A Face in the Dark and other Hauntings' and more...5 novels, 73 short stories, 10 essays, 6 travel writings, 10 songs and poems.

Bringing the past and present together is Ruskin Bond's specialty. A career now spanning four decades, has won him tremendous critical acclaim. His writing is full with unassuming humour and quiet wisdom. His stories are sensitive and manifest a deep love for nature, Indian people and their eccentricities.

In 1987, the Indian Council for Child Education recognized his pioneering role in the growth of children's literature in India, and awarded him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra. He won the Padma Shri in 1999.

Bond's novel The Flight of Pigeons has been adapted into the acclaimed Merchant Ivory film Junoon. The Room on the Roof was also adapted for a television serial. Short stories from collections such as The Night Train at Deoli, Time Stops at Shamli and Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra have been included in school text books.
In the year 2007,the Bollywood director Vishal Bharadwaj made a heart-warming film based on his popular novel for children, The Blue Umbrella. The movie won the National Award for Best Children's film.

Ruskin’s latest offering to the world of are a collection of prose and poems bringing out his unique relationship with India and its people. "The India I Love, does not make the headlines, but I find it wherever I go - In field or forest, town or village, mountain or desert - and in the hearts and minds of people who have given me love and affection for the better part of my lifetime," he says.

Media-shy, Bond prefers the quiet life of the hills and currently lives in Landour, Mussoorie’s well-known Ivy Cottage, which has been his home since 1964.