iSurprise Sarpay Beikman House

‘Palace of Literature’ - a former prestigious library turned EMS office

Palace of Literature

For many years this was Yangon’s home of literature. It was general Aung San himself who spearheaded an initiative to translate world literature into Myanmar language: The Burma Translation Society (BTS). The first project - a Burmese encyclopaedia - was printed in 1954. Many publications followed, not only translations but also countless books by local writers and poets.

Sorrento Villa

In the early years, the society was housed in the Judson College Compound at Yangon University, but in May 1948, they found this elegant villa on Pyay Road as the perfect place for literary ventures. The villa became a printing press, publishing house and also a free library with over 60,000 book titles. It was an immensely popular place with book clubs, lectures and literary activities. “In the 1950s, the printing plant was known as the most modern one in Southeast Asia” board member Maung Hlaing shares proudly.

A translation department should be established to translate useful books and have them published in the interest of the people.
— Bogyoke Aung San

Literary spirit

Later the Sarpay Beikman Literature House became part of the Ministry of Information and the building is now an EMS office. Yet the society’s manifesto “to improve and enrich the general knowledge of all the nationals of the Union" never changed and its literary spirit never left the building. The Palace of Literature has moved to a heritage building on Merchant Street and still every year they present the prestigious annual Sarpay Beikman Manuscript Awards and Burma National Literature Awards.

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