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Kulaab Saipradit (กุหลาบ สายประดิษฐ์)

Thai. Name of a 20th century novelist, who was born in Bangkok on 31 March 1905, during the final years of King Rama V's reign. He was the son of a doctoral clerk named Suwan (สุวรรณ), who worked for the Royal State Railways of Siam, i.e. the later State Railway of Thailand. His mother was a farmer from Suphanburi named Somboon (สมบุญ). When Suwan died of an illness at the untimely age of 35, Kulaab was just 6 years old. Hence, he was for the most part brought up by his mother, who took up a job as seamstress, and his elder sister, who was sent to school to train for a lakhon dancer, in order to help provide for the small family and enabling them to afford the young Kulaab (fig.) with an education. Kulaab Saipradit is also known by the pseudonym Sri Burapha (ศรีบูรพา) and his oeuvre includes his novel Khaanglang Phaap (ข้างหลังภาพ), i.e. ‘Behind The Picture/Scene’, a love story of different ages, which has been praised for its beautiful use of the Thai language and has known 39 reprints. Nowadays, Khaanglang Phaap is deemed a Thai classic. In 1951, during the second premiership of dictatorial Field Marshal Plaek Phibun Songkram, Kulaab Saipradit set up the Peace Foundation of Thailand. In 1952, when he protested against the Korean War and demanded the lifting of press censorship, he was arrested and charged with treason. He was sentenced to 14 years in jail, but in 1957 –after serving about 5 years– he received amnesty. Some time after his release from prison, he went into self-imposed exile in China, where he died in Beijing on 16 June 1974. In 2005, one hundred years after his birthday, Kulaab Saipradit was celebrated with a Thai postage stamp, issued to commemorate a Century of Modern Thai Writers (fig.).