Nanamoli Thera (England, 1905-1960) was born Osbert Moore. He graduated from Oxford and, during World War II, served as an officer in the British military where he became interested in Buddhism. With an army friend, he traveled to Sri Lanka in 1949 and both men were ordained as novices by the German monk Nyanatiloka Maha Thera at Dodanduwa. The next year in Columbo they received the higher ordination as Buddhist monks.
At the relatively late age of 49, Nanamoli began to apply himself assiduously to the study of Pali, Sinhala and Burmese, and quickly mastered the languages. Equipped thus, he began a brilliant study of the Dhamma and soon became an erudite scholar.
Within eight years he translated into lucid English the abstruse Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purity), Majjhima Nikaya (Middle Length Discourses), Khuddakapatha and Paramatthajotika (Minor Reading and Illustrator), Patisambhida Magga (The Path of Discrimination), Sammohavinodani (The Dispeller of Delusion), Nettipakarana (The Guide), and Petakopadesa (Pitaka Disclosure), ample evidence of his profound understanding of the Dhamma. He also wrote The Life of the Buddha, a biography, which has become a modern classic.
Barefoot and with few wants, he scrupulously observed the Vinaya, the monks' Code of Discipline. Up to the time of his death--a period of only eleven years--he wore the same robes presented to him at his ordination. A cultured, calm and soft-spoken man with a gentle humor, his untimely passing due to heart failure was a great loss to Buddhism.