Article Index

Brief description of M.L.Boonlua Debyasuvarn and her most important works:

  • a teacher at many secondary schools, colleges and universities, includingprivate, governmental, Buddhist and Catholic schools; teaching Thai language, English, Botany, and promoting extra-curricular activities;
  • a leading female educator and educational administrator in the Ministry of Education particularly in 1950’s through 1970’s, active in the expansion and quality development of secondary and tertiary education. ( On the role and thoughts of M.L.Boonlua concerning Education and university Development, read: M.L.Boonlua and her ideas on Education by Paitoon Silaratana, former Dean of the Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University, first printed in Varasarn Kru Magazine, February- May, BE 2000, reprinted in Boon Bampen; and Sippanondha Ketudat, “Future of Thai Tertiary Education,reprinted in Boon Bampen)
  • an advocate for the preservation and promotion of the  Thai language and literature considered as an integral part of the preservation of Thai culture; a founding member of the Thai Language Club of the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University; curriculum developer for Thai language and Thai literature teaching; writer of textbooks on Thai teaching
  • a recognized national and regional expert in the studies of languages and literature for better intercultural dialogue and understanding; involved in curriculum development and textbook writing for the teaching and learning  of Thai and foreign languages and literature; initiated and promoted the teaching and learning of literary criticism in school and at college and university levels.
  • instrumental in the founding of The Language Center, now LANGUAGE INSTITUTE OF CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY
  • an advocate and a major discussant of woman and gender issues, reflecting and discussing the issues and roles of traditional and modern women in traditional and modern literature; presenting and raising the issues in her own writings, especially presenting in her novels and short stories different or even conflicting characters and roles of women and men in the modern Thai society.
  • a national and regional expert in intercultural dialogue and intercultural communication; lectured extensively on the subject both within and outside the country.
  • a writer of numerous fictions and nonfictions, most of them are still recommended for external reading at secondary school level; one of her many books on literary thinking and criticism is listed among the 100 books that all Thais must read; one of her novels is placed on The 20 top- Thai- novels listed by a French Translator living in Thailand who translated and printed it as an e-book.
  • One of her tales: “The Tale of a royal elephant: Plai Mongkol”, a tragedy depicting the fall from dignity and grace of an elephant whose fate was comparable to that of a man in similar situations, was published (the third edition) by the Centre for International Understanding, Thai National Commission for UNESCO, in 1971.
  • One of her novellas, “Saneh Plai Jawak” (The Enchanting Cooking Spoon) was translated into English, studied and discussed together with other important Thai contemporary writings, by  Herbert  P. Phillips in his Anthology: “Modern Thai Literature-- with an Ethnographic Interpretation”, University of Hawaii Press,1987;  her works were comparatively studied by a researcher, Thelma B. Kintamnar, in her “ Self and Society in Southeast Asian Fiction”, published by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1988, under Southeast Asian Studies Program whose purpose it was to promote the understanding of Southeast Asian cultures and literatures. In this research publication, one of her novellas , “Dr. Look Thung”, was analyzed and commented in detail together with other Southeast Asian writers’ works, in the chapter on “Social Class and the Individual”
  • her life and works, considered unique and having significant historic and cultural value to those who study Thai and Asian history and culture, have been the topic of many studies at regional and international institutes, and were recently the subject of an in-depth research for a  Ph.D. dissertation of an American scholar at University of California at Berkeley.

Full list of her works and actions

  • A career in language teaching and education development

          Her long teaching career began during her days at the University, teaching Botany and English grammar at S.P.G., a higher secondary missionary school near the University where she was given room and board.
          Upon graduation, she joined the Ministry of Education’s teaching staff in 1938 and worked at the Triam Udom Suksa Preparatory School of Chulalongkorn University, established in the same year to prepare secondary school leavers from nationwide for adequate entrance into Chulalongkorn university. Since there was shortage of qualified teachers, she concurrently taught English at Chulalongkorn University and also served as a part- time teacher of Thai language and literature at Mater Dei, a renowned Catholic secondary school for girls, in Bangkok.
          She was active and took pride in helping both of the schools organize their annual production of the Students Music and Drama.  She firM.L.y believed Students Drama Production was important as an extra curricular activity, and a necessary learning experience for the students as well as teachers and parents.
          For Triam Udom Suksa School, she took the episode of “Apasarawartar” part from “Ramamkien”, the Poetic Epic by  King Rama I, and added dialogues and songs, making it into a full-scale verse play which she produced for the performance by her first batch of students of Triam Udom in 1940.
          For the Mater Dei School production In 1946, she entirely composed her first poetic play to raise fund for the renovation of school buildings destroyed in the bombardments of Bangkok during the war. It was a play about a “virtuous woman” in the Thai history.  As recalled by Mayuree Sukhavivat in “Boon Bampen”, 1982, p. 94-98, this poetic play entitled: “Upayobai” was successfully performed and produced by all-female students who were assigned different responsibilities in the production, and had to work as a team respecting each other’s role and working towards the same goal. Being students of a Catholic school with a strong leaning towards foreign languages, the students surprised the audience, among whom were parents, national dignitaries and education ministry officials, that they could deliver eloquently and realistically such an important and difficult epic drama in Thai poetry and  could produce a play with elegant settings and costumes (borrowed from some very high-level sources by a student, M.R. Supicha Sonakul, who was in charge of costumes). The play, based on a short record of a historical incident that took place in the 14th century during the early Ayutthya kingdom, was elaborated and embellished through M.L.Boonlua’s knowledge and imagination so that it became real and alive when two Ayutthya princes whose jealous, greedy, and ambitious wives motivated them to fight and kill each other, while the wife of the third prince who was calmer and more intelligent forewarned and thus prevented her husband from falling victim to the evil plot laid by jealous and treacherous court officials.  This play was later published in book form in 1985.
          During this period, her health became weak, and at the advice of her family, she considered resigning from work.