Burmese Literary Pioneer Dies
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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Burmese Literary Pioneer Dies

By Aung Lwin Oo Monday, August 16, 2004


August 16, 2004—The well known Burmese poet and scholar Min Thu Wun, also known as U Wun, died at his home in Rangoon on Sunday, aged 96.


Min Thu WunThe ethnic Mon-Burmese writer was a legend in Burma’s literary circles for his output of poems, reference books and pedagogical texts. Even the blind have been touched by his work: he created the Burmese Braille writing system.


Min Thu Wun also gained prominence as a Member of Parliament for the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD. His passing yesterday was marked quietly by family and friends in the Burmese capital.


He was born in 1909 in Mon State. At the age of 20 he began composing poems for the school magazine at Rangoon College, now Rangoon University.


He then began writing children’s poems and pursuing a master’s degree in Burmese, which he received in 1935. While at university he was editor of the school magazine and Ganhta Lawka (“World of Books”) magazine, then one of the most widely read journals in Burma. In 1939, he received his bachelor’s degree in literature from Oxford University.


In the following years, Min Thu Wun cemented his legacy with a prolific output of children’s poems, and for helping to modernize Burmese literature, through a movement called Khitsan (“New Writing”).


He also helped write Mon-Burmese and Pali-Burmese dictionaries. His unique teaching methods have helped countless Burmese learn to read.


He was elected to Burma’s parliament in 1990 as an NLD member. He resigned from the party in 1998, under heavy pressure from military authorities. The junta has barred Min Thu Wun’s writings from appearing in local magazines and periodicals. It has also banned other writers who mention his name or refer to his works.

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