Well-known contributors of the past
What the special article has achieved:
The 'Special Article' was a feature new to journalism in Ceylon when
the 'Daily News' entered the field a quarter of a century ago. There
were writers of causeries, skits and feuilletons but the daily special
article on the leader page was an innovation. The Daily News has
published well over ten thousand articles by various contributors,
persuasive and protestant, local and foreign, on subjects topical of
'sub specie aeternitatis.'
J. R. Weinman
E. J. Samerawickrame
The two-column message in the first issue by Sir P. Arunachalam began
a fine tradition. There was hardly any public man who wielded a facile
pen whose articles did not enliven the columns of the paper during the
period under review.
In those early days J. R. Weinman was respresented either in the
editorial columns or in the special articles week by week. Weinman had a
long career at the Bar and held high judicial office but his metier was
writing. He was never at a loss for a subject and his fund of
entertaining anecdotes was inexhaustible. He could produce a two-column
article of very readable matter in half an hour but his handwriting was
the despair of editors and compositors.
Another fine writer who contributed to the early issues was the late
J. T. Blaze, brother of L. E. Blaze. J. T. Blaze had contributed
articles to the Encyclopaedia Britanica after he left Lincoln College,
Oxford. He never fulfilled the promise of his early career but he was of
the tradition of C. A. Lorenz, and papers like the ‘Examiner’ and the
‘Standard’ owed much to his incisive and polished pen.
Lionel de Fonseka who had made a reputation with his essay on ‘The
Truth About Decorative Art’, wrote many elegant pieces for the Daily
One of the first notable series of articles to be published by the
Daily News was contributed by Leonard Woolf, author of 'Village in the
The Law Library was the chief reservoir of literary talent in those
early days. If Sir Thomas de Sampayo did not write articles, he
contributed a whole set of the 'Examiner' files. He was one of the
proprietors of the 'Examiner'.
E. W. Perera wrote a notable series, of great historical value on his
famous mission to England in connection with the Riots, K. Balasinham
wrote on economic and industrial questions. E. T. de Silva contributed
many special articles and editorials usually on political subjects. B.
F. de Silva wrote articles with the flavour of salted almonds using the
At critical moments in the political development of the island E. J.
Samerawickrame contributed articles or letters with a formidable
gentleness that was usually decisive.
Among the seniors of the legal profession of today whose articles
were published in the Daily News were W. H. Perera, A. B. Cooray, A. L.
J. Croos Da Brera and N. E. Weerasooriya K C - the last named being the
author of some delightful skits.
E. R. Tambimuttu wrote on subjects grave and gay and the late H. A.
P. Sandarasagara on subjects mostly gay, one of his best being a series
entitled 'Travellers' Tales' during a visit to Europe.
S. J. K. Crowther, whose writings in the ‘Ceylon Independent’ over
the pen-name ‘Pagoda’ were attracting attention, transferred to the
Daily News for which he wrote skits and burlesques over the nom-de-plume
‘Jacques’. He was soon to play a major part in the destinies of the new
C. E. Corea, whose prose was greatly admired by discriminating
critics like the late Warden Stone wrote on land problems anticipating
by many years a notable series by D. S. Senanayake entitled 'Agriculture
The Ceylon Press has always been helped with contributions by the
clergy of many Christian denominations. In the early years of the Daily
News the Revd. Fr. E. Verstraaten S. J, the Revd. W. E. Boteju and Revd.
J. Simon de Silva were frequent contributors. Revd. G. B. Ekanayake has
been an occasional contributor and in more recent years Revd. C. Thorpe
wrote a series using the pen-name ‘Sardonicus’. Contributions have also
been published by well-known heads of schools including the Revd. A. G.
Fraser, the Revd. R. W. Stopford and L. H. W. Sampson of the Royal
Among the journalists who had already gained a reputation for their
work on other papers, and who contributed to the Daily News, were the
late F. F. Martinus and Edmund de Livera (‘Adstans’ of the ‘Ceylon
The level of scholarship was sustained by innumerable contributions
from Revd Fr S. G. Perera, S. J. Dr Andreas Nell and E. Reimers, C.
Brooke Elliot K C wrote a regular London News-Letter after his
retirement and St Nihal Singh, an Indian journalist with a European
reputation, wrote on varied subjects. One of the most authoritative
articles ever published in the Daily News was Sir Sivaswamy Aiyer's
analysis and criticism of the Donoughmore constitution.
He was specially invited to write the article owing to his high
reputation as a constitutional lawyer and he treated the subject with
great knowledge and consummate skill.
The 'Daily News' has always taken a keen interest in town-planning
and the famous expert on the subject. H. V. Lanchester, wrote a series
of articles on the planning of Colombo.
T. W. Hockly, now spending a quiet holiday in Kashmir, has been a
frequent writer to the columns of the 'Daily News' over a period of many
years. The late Count de Mauny wrote some of his best work for the
W. A. de Silva wrote many articles for the 'Daily News' on cultural
subjects or in reminiscent vein. The late C. Drieberg, equally at home
in prose or verse, was an occasional contributor. Dr R. L. Spittel has
written on many themes, including archaeology, jungle-lore and hospital
reoganisation. S Mahadeva, now Assistant Director of Public Works, is
another who has written for the 'Daily News' over a long period of
years. Other public servants whose work has been published in the 'Daily
News' are R. H. Bassett, T. W. Roberts and J. C. W. Rock. Rock was
always a tennis enthusiast and wrote with authority and distinction on
the Nuwara Eliya tournaments.
This list of names is far from being exhaustive. The names of younger
writers and more recent contributors are omitted because it would be
invidious to make a selection, and there is no space to mention them
The 'Daily News' has also, by arrangement with London newspapers,
published the work of well-known writers such as H. J. Laski, A. G.
Gardiner (a series of his famous pen-portraits) and Dr.W. R. Inge, the
former Dean of St Paul's. It had the privilege of publishing an article
by Lord Hewart, when he was Lord Chief Justice.
This was done by arrangement with a famous London newspaper. It
published the recent series on strategy by General Wavell by arrangement
with the 'London Times'. For many years the ‘Daily News’ has held the
copyright for special articles published by the ‘London Times’. Other
notable series published exclusively by the 'Daily News' were the
Memoirs of Lord Oxford (Asquith), the Autobiography of H. G. Wells, Mrs
Dugdale's Life of Lord Balfour, and Lord Birkenhead's Life of his
father, the famous Lord Chancellor.
The war has rather cramped the style of the editorial page. Space has
to be found for news and advertisements in a smaller-sized paper and
articles from London, which used to come in a week by air-mail, now take
two months to do the same journey. In spite of this pressure from two
sides the special article survives. If it has to be jettisoned, the war
will have claimed another notable casualty.