Michael Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1943. He moved to England in 1954, at the age of eleven, and to Canada in 1962. He earned a B.A. at the University of Toronto and an M.A. from Queens University.
His books of poetry include The Story (House of Anansi, 2006); Handwriting (1999); The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (1991); Secular Love (1984); There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems, 1963-1978 (1978), which won the Governor General's award; Elimination Dance (1976); Rat Jelly (1973); The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), which won the Governor General's award; The Man with Seven Toes (1969); and Dainty Monsters (1967).
He is also the author of a memoir, Running in the Family (1982), and the novels: Divisadero (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); Anil's Ghost (2000); The English Patient (1992), which shared the Booker Prize and was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture; In The Skin of a Lion (1987); and Coming Through Slaughter (1976). He has edited From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories (1990-91), The Faber Book of Contemporary Canadian Short Stories (1990), The Long Poem Anthology (1979), Personal Fictions: Stories by Munro, Wiebe, Thomas, and Blaise (1977), and The Broken Ark: A Book of Beasts (1971).
Michael Ondaatje has taught at Glendon College, York University, since 1971. He and his wife, novelist Linda Spalding, live in Toronto and edit the literary journal Brick.