Home Direction Contact Facilities Attractions Photo Gallery Trip Tips Misc Safari Rates    

Some Free Books online on Ceylon /Sri Lanka
also see Sri Lanka: Essential Reading on History and Sociology

Ananda Coomaraswamy: The Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon (1913)
“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist” Ananda  Coomaraswamy, A pioneer historian of Indian Art and foremost interpreter of Indian culture to the West’.
but excerpts from the book. Very readable and not just the art but the religious and philosophical background to art.  This and other books by AC are available free, link at end of the post.

Robert Knox (1681) "An historical relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies"

Knox was captured by the Kandyan King and was kept for 20 years. Escaped and wrote about life in the Hill Country. Supposed to have inspired Defoes, Robinson Crusoe
Robert Knox (1681) "An historical relation of the Island Ceylon in the East Indies"

This version has his autobiography as a slave trader after he escaped from Ceylon

Excerpt from CHAP. VII. Of their Lodging, Bedding, Whoredom, Marriages, and Children.
So that youth are bred up to Whoredom. Indeed here are no Publick Whores allowed by Authority. In the City some that have followed that Trade, have oftentimes by the King’s order been severely punished by Whipping, and having their Earsand Hair cut off. But in private few or none can exempt themselves. And for the matter of being with Child, which many of them do not desire, they very exquisitely can prevent the same.
They are guilty of the thing, but love not the name.Indeed the Publick Trade would be bad, and hardly maintain them that exercised it, the private one being so great. And tho I think they be all Whores, yet they abhor the Name of Vesou, which is Whore. Neither do they in their anger reproach one another with it, unless they should lay with a Man of an inferior quality to themselves, And the Woman reckons her self as much obliged to the Man for his Company, as he does to her for hers.

The Village in the Jungle by Woolf, Leonard (1913)

Growing Seven years in Ceylon by Woolf, Leonard (1961)
https://wilpattuhouse.com/MiscStuff/Leonard Woolf-Growing Seven Years in Ceylon.pdf

Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich Philipp August, 1834-1919 A visit to Ceylon 


Nature 26, 254-256 (13 July 1882) | doi:10.1038/026254a0
Prof. Haeckel in Ceylon and India
I. PROF. ERNST HAECKEL of Jena, as most of the readers of NATURE are doubtless aware, has lately returned to his University after a six months' journey in India and Ceylon, undertaken in the interests of science with the object of providing additional data in support of the theory of evolution, of which he is the most able and best-known exponent in Germany. The veneration which he constantly expresses for Mr. Darwin, of whom he may be said to have been the first and perhaps the chief disciple on the Continent, would of itself suffice to give his opinions and observations weight in this country. No one, however, who has read the series of letters now being contributed by Prof. Haeckel to the Deutsche Rundschau, can fail to find them on their own merits both delightful and instructive. They are written in a popular form, but contain traces of profound scientific knowledge combined with great quickness and freshness of observation, and an almost boyish exuberance of delight in the presence of nature’s wonders. Of the three letters or articles already published, the first contains an account of the voyage to India, the second, entitled “A Week in Bombay,” describes with vivid enthusiasm the caves of Elephanta and the other marvels of that most interesting of tropical cities, and the third, contained in the June number of the Rundschau, of which we propose to give a short reproduction for the benefit of our English readers, brings the Professor to the “promised land” of his scientific yearnings-that island of Ceylon which exhibits in all its varied charms “the highest conceivable development of Indian nature.
Caroline Corner 1908. The Paradise of Adam The Record of Seven Years Residence in the Island
Humorous insights of a English womans life in 19th Century Ceylon

    Two excerpts from Caroline Corner
Sir James Emerson Tennent (1860): Sketches of the Natural History of Ceylon

Sir James Emerson Tennent (1861) Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical

Fifty years in Ceylon, Author: Thomas Skinner (1891)
Thomas Skinner (the road/railway builder) also repaired Kala wewa.
The book is downloadable,see right hand pull down menu
Skinner  is quite critical/skeptical of Brit Colonial Policies including the 6 days labor to construct roads which he says will mostly benefit British Capitalists.
Also read pg 18: Description of Puran Appu and Gongalegoda Banda. Then read the wikis for Puran Appu and Gongalegoda Banda.
Forbes: Recent disturbances and military executions in Ceylon (1860 ?)
The book is downloadable,see free E-Book button
Diary of Sir John D’Oyly, Baronet of Kandy(1810-1815)
Tombi Mudali, JR Jayawardene's ancestor is mentioned often in the diary as a guide.
D'Oyly had a key role in arranging for the British takeover of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815. Being fluent in Sinhala, he was the intermediary between the British Governor and the disaffected Kandyan chiefs who were intriguing to "sell out" the king, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. D'Oyly is credited with drafting the Kandyan Convention of March 2, 1815 which set out the terms of the accession.
Ancient Irrigation Systems
To quote Edward Goldsmith The evidence from Sri Lanka, however, firmly refutes that argument: not only did villages run their own irrigation systems quite independently of the state but  and this is critical they continued to do so even after the state effectively collapsed Instead, insists Tennent, the destruction and final abandonment of the tanks should be seen as the inevitable outcome of social decay and in particular, the disruption of the local communities by whom they were so long maintained. With that disruption came an end to that concord and union which Tennent held to be so critical to the running of the irrigation works. The consequences were undoubtedly disastrous: (Read in context of Joseph Tainter Collapse of Complex Societies.)
Ancient hydraulic civilization Denis Fernando
A long summary of manuscript as a guest lecture
The Veddas, Seligman and Seligman (1911)

Free Book Here

The Veddas are the hunter gatherers of Sri Lanka. The group is fast dying now at present. The oldest book on Veddas is by Seligman and Seligman (husband and wife) (1911)
My grandfather who was Interpreter Mudaliyar in the Eastern Province is mentioned a couple of times.

The oldest mention of the Veddas is in the Mahavamsa. Supposed be descendants of Vijaya and Kuveni.
VIJAYA had one son and one daughter by the yakkhini; when he now heard that the princess had arrived he said to the yakkhini: `Go thou now, dear one, leaving the two children behind; men are ever in fear of superhuman beings.’ But when she heard this she was seized with fear of the yakkhas; then he said (again) to the yakkhini: `Delay not! I will bestow on thee an offering19 by (spending) a thousand (pieces of money).’ When she had again and again besought him (in vain) she took her two children and departed for Lankapura, though fearing that evil should come of it.
Fleeing with speed they went from thence to the Sumanaküta. The brother, the elder of the two, when he grew up took his sister, the younger, for his wife, and multiplying with sons and daughters, they dwelt, with the king’s leave, there in Malaya.21 From these are sprung the Pulinda (Veddas)

The Gathering (elephants) in Minneriya: Natural?


Many Free Books on Ceylon (Google Books)
Use search tool for all option, set to full preview to get complete books.
Other Sites With Free Books
also have many older (copyright expired) books. I search for "Ceylon"".
Thats said Somerset Maugham, P. G. Wodehouse, Joseph Conrad etc are also available.
Enclosure Inclosure Acts of Britain

Contrast with Sri Lankas's Land Reform Act 1972 which limited ownership to 50 acres (20 hectares)

The Ancient History Books of Sri Lanka (pdf)
The Mahavamsa: Vijaya to Mahasena (approx 500BC to 323AD Also Available online here

The Culavamsa Vol 1 : Sirimeghavanna to Parākramabāhu I (352 AD to 1123AD)

The Culavamsa Vol 2 : Parākramabāhu I to Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1123AD-1752AD

Yalpana Vaipava Malai; History of Jaffna :


Sereno:+94 75-782-3488