The veteran bilingual writer, to whose credit is a host of some three hundred titles, under varied classifications was awarded the prestigious Sahithya Rathna Sammana (2020), a rare recognition a Sri Lankan writer could hope to receive only once in life time, at the 2020/2021 State Literary Award Ceremony, held at the BMICH, Colombo on 03rd December 2021.
As a tiny literary bud which later blossomed into ever widening creative, critical and intellectual propensities, Abeysinghe’s literary talents were originally recognized and nurtured by his beloved gurus, the late Chandrasena Pannila and Somaratne Herath, during his secondary school days, at his Alma Mater, Central College Kuliyapitiya, during the era of legendary Lionel Lokuliyana of literary and educational fame. During his formative years as a writer, he came under the aegis of Martin Wckramasinghe the doyen of Sinhala literature, about whom Abeysinghe was later destined to write the biography of the great man, entitled “Maha Gathkaru Watha” in three volumes running into some one thousand five hundred pages, which is considered to be his Magnum Opus, in the year 2009. This ambitious and enthusiastic young writer also came under the influence of Udakendawala Siri Saranankara Thera of Lenin Peace Prize fame, who threatened to sacrifice his life when USA attempted to carry out nuclear tests in the Christmas Islands.
Dr W.A.Abeysinghe was decorated with many literary rewards and accolades since 1980 – nine awards at North Western Province Literary Festivals 1989 – 1995, five Academy Awards at the State Literary Festivals in the years 1980, 1990, 1997, 2019, 2020 for both Sinhala and English publications, Kalapathi (Master of Arts) North Western Provincial Council , Patriotic Lyrical Compositions – Lakhanda Radio 2004, Sahithya Shiromani – Vidyalankara Sabha 2011, and Leo Tolstoy Award – Russian Cultural House, Colombo 2013.
It was an interesting coincidence that Abeysinghe received the state literary award for the best Sinhala translation of the massive novel – First Circle, (one of the most prominent novels of the last century written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the controversial Russian writer, Nobel Prize recipient), at the same literary festival where he was elevated to the position of Sahitya Rathna.
Widely travelled since 1966, Dr W.A.Abeysinghe has represented Sri Lanka at many international forums – Afro Asian Writers’ Conference – Soviet Union 1966, Afro Asian Writers’ Conference – Lebanon 1967, World Peace Council – Cyprus 1979, Kavitha Asia Poetry Festival – India 1988, Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace- Moscow, Ulan Bator, Delhi, 1978- 1984, Press Forum Press in Asian Era organized by “Joong Angilbo” (newspaper) Seoul, South Korea 1996, Yssikul Forum on Chingiz Aitmatov – Republic of Kirgizia 2013- to name a few.
He was twice honoured by the Government of Sri Lanka conferring on him the National Honours namely, Sri Lanka Shikhamani – 1992 and Kala Keerthi – 2017.
In recognition of his scholarship and voluminous writing on many literary and academic fields, Wayamba University Sri Lanka conferred on him Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) in the year 2010.
Abeysinghe who started his career as an English Trained Teacher at his Alma Mater Central College, Kuliyapitiya in 1960, passing many phases of varied vocations and involvements as tutor of University Institutions, professional and free-lance journalist , Features Editor (Sirilaka), Editorial Director and Consultant (Lake House), Television and Radio personality , Member – International Secretariat, Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (1978-1984), twice Chairman of National Library and Documentation Services Board , Managing Director of Janakala Kendra (North Western Provincial Council ), Advertising Executive (International Advertising Services) , twice Chairman of State Literary Panel, Council Member – Wayamba University Sri Lanka 2008-2018, Attorney at Law (Advocate) for over thirty years and a few other engagements, has now ‘come to stay’ as a professional writer – an exacting tedium and an extremely demanding challenge for a man of letters in Sri Lanka.
(Secretary of Dr W.A.Abeysinghe Foundation)