Home Book Summary

Book Summary

“I came from a humble family and did not have any privileges of class or caste. I only had a great longing to study, and believed, even as a child, that education would open up vistas of greatness for me… I had no desire to stagnate in a village that had few opportunities for the young to realize their dreams...” 


 “I am like that elastic piece of rubber which bounces up highest when it is pressed and trampled most.”  (N.U. Jayawardena, quoted in the book)          

N.U. Jayawardena (1908-2002) began his life with few advantages. Born in Hambantota and the son of a provincial resthouse keeper, he rose to become the first Sri Lankan Governor of the Central Bank, and later, a leading figure in the private sector.  His story is a compelling study in tenacity and perseverance, beginning from his schooldays, when he memorized the Oxford English dictionary in the dim light of the railway station.

N.U. Jayawardena – The First Five Decades covers the first half of NU’s long life and varied career, including his youth, studies, family life, years in government service, and tenure in the Central Bank, including the political events surrounding his dismissal from the Bank, and his subsequent exoneration and new beginnings in the private sector.

The book also examines formative experiences in NU’s life, such as his education at St. Aloysius’ College, external London degree in Economics, his work on the 1934 Banking Commission and his studies in Business Administration at the London School of Economics. It also takes a look at the role NU played, behind the scenes, in shaping some of Sri Lanka’s key financial and economic infrastructure.

Set against the backdrop of cataclysmic events, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Second World War and political milestones, including Sri Lanka’s attainment of independence from British rule in 1948, the book brings to life the socio-economic and political events of the first half of the 20th century.

Richly illustrated with over 180 photographs, cartoons and posters, this book will interest, not only those who knew NU, but also the general reader and specialist alike.

(216pp., 182 colour photos & illustrations, size: 10” x 8”, cloth-bound, hard cover with French-fold dust-jacket)