Ruskin Bond is an eminent contemporary Indian writer of British descent. He prolifically authored inspiring children’s books and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award to honor his work of literature.
Born on May 19, 1934, in Kasauli, India, he was the son of Edith Clarke and Aubrey Bond. His father served in the Royal Air Force and frequently moved from places to places along with his son. When he was eight, his parents separated and his mother left him. She married to a Punjabi-Hindu. Bond had a complicated relationship with his mother, who was rarely there to offer him affection and they eventually grew distant. His father’s undivided attention helped him grow. He felt loved and secure but his tragic departure from his life left him lonely and broken. Following the sudden demise of his father, he moved to Dehradun where his grandmother raised him. He received his early education from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. During his school years he won several writing competitions, including the Hailey Literature Prize and the Irwin Divinity Prize. In 1952, he completed his graduation and moved to England and stayed at his aunt’s house for four years.
The first twenty years of his life groomed him to be a good writer as it developed his personality in such a way. Despite his suffering and lonely childhood, Bond developed an optimistic outlook on life. He chose the path of becoming an earnest writer that his father wished him to follow. Therefore, he found solace in reading books that habit was also inculcated in him by his father. Some of his favorite reads include T. E. Lawrence, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë and Rudyard Kipling.
At the age of 17 in London, he began to write his first novel, The Room on the Roof. The novel charts the life of an orphaned Anglo-Indian teenager. He runs away to live with his friends as he escapes the tyranny of his strict guardian. The book has a strong autobiographical element as it’s based on his actual experiences living in a small rented room on the roof in Dehradun. It was not published until he was twenty-one. He was awarded John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize for his first novel. Its success gave him an impetus to write its sequel Vagrants in the Valley.
Subsequently, he returned to India and worked as a journalist in Delhi and Dehradun for a few years. Later, he relocated to a town in the Himalayan foothills, Mussoorie, where he pursued freelance writing since 1963. His essays and articles were published in numerous magazines, such as The Pioneer, The Leader, The Tribune and The Telegraph. Till now he has written over three hundred short stories, essays and novels and over thirty children’s books. Additionally, he penned two autobiographical volumes; Scenes from a Writer’s Life and The Lamp is Lit; Leaves from a Journal. The first one details his formative years in India and the second one is based on journal entries, essay collection and episodes about his years making it as a freelance writer.
Some of other notable works of Ruskin Bond include Blue Umbrella, A Flight of Pigeons and Funny Side Up. His works have also been adapted for television and film. A BBC TV-series is based on his debut novel, short story “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” was adapted into a film as 7 Khoon Maaf and film Junoon is inspired by his A Flight of Pigeons.