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Tulachandra was the pen name of Chancham Bunnag. The name was an amalgam of her husband’s first name and the first syllable of her own. She was born in 1921, the eldest daughter of Khun Chamnan Worakit (Lui Indhusophon), an official in the Post and Telegraph Department, who later became Permanent Secretary for Communication. Her mother was a daughter of Phra Sophon Aksornkit (Lek Smitasiri) a major publisher of the inter-war years.
Chancham was an outstanding student at Rajini School, a leading girls school, whence she won a government scholarship to study abroad in the second batch opened to women. She chose to go to the United States and enrolled at Goucher College in Baltimore. She was majoring in English Literature when Pearl Harbour was attacked in December 1941.
Thai students were given the choice of staying on and join the Allies war efforts or repatriation. Chancham chose the latter because she was worried about her parents. Arriving back in Bangkok in 1942, she married Tula Bunnag, son of a former Thai Minister at the Royal Thai Legation, Washington D.C. They had two sons.
Chancham started her career at the Ministry of Finance, but she was not numerate and did not enjoy the work. As soon as she could, she resigned and joined the United States Information Service (USIS) where she found her vocation as a translator. She translated Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage for USIS and debuted as Tulachandra. From then on, as an independent author, she translated many books, including Prisna, culminating in Four Reigns, by M.R. Kukrit Pramoj, the most famous Thai novel of modern times.
Tulachandra preferred to call her translations English versions of the books. She took editorial liberty with the text but always with permission of the author. She thought she had improved on the original in the English version. ‘For continuously creating over a long period widely acknowledged popular works of value to Thai literature’, she was awarded the Naradhip Prize of The Writer’s Association of Thailand in 2002. She passed away in 2006.