GOVINDAS VISHNOODAS DESANI (1909–2000) was born to Indian parents in Nairobi, Kenya, and raised in Sind, India (located in present-day Pakistan). Desani ran away from home several times and was expelled from school when he was thirteen for ‘being unteachable’. At the age of seventeen, he decided to educate himself, travelling alone to England and spending a year as a reader at the British Library. Desani returned to India where he was a foreign correspondent for several London newspapers. In the late 1930s and during World War II, he worked for the BBC and travelled throughout England as a lecturer. All About H. Hatterr was published in England in 1948 and was one of the best-selling books of the year. Settling in India in 1952, Desani began a life of near seclusion. During this period, he spent time in Buddhist monasteries and studied yoga and Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
Soon after, he began lecturing on Eastern thought and contributing stories and an unsigned opinion column, ‘Very High and Very Low’, to the Illustrated Weekly of India. He moved to the United States in 1970 to teach at Boston University and subsequently the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a professor of religion and philosophy.