Growing is the autobiography of a young man sent straight from university to help govern the British Empire. Rarely has an empire had such an intelligent, dutiful, hard-working and incorruptible civil servant. Woolf was determined to do what was good, but discovered for himself that colonial rule was fated to do what was wrong. Growing is a deeply affectionate portrait of the mystery, magic and savage beauty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the twentieth century. For Woolf had both the time and the intelligence to explore the country, its diverse religions, beliefs and philosophies, and to pay attention to the differing cultures of the Sinhalese, Tamil and Anglo-Indian communities. He also had the wit to leave a series of devastating portraits of the colonial ruling class.