Wickramasinghe was born on 29 May 1891, in the town of galle of Koggal, and Magalle Balapitiya Liyanage Thochchohamy. Koggala was bounded on one side by a reef, and on the other by Koggala Lagoon, a large coastal lake into which the numerous tributaries of the Koggala Oya drained. The landscapes of the sea, Koggala Lagoon studded with little islands, the flora and fauna, the forested hinterland, and the changing patterns of life and culture of the people of the village would later influence his work.
At the age of five Wickramasinghe was taught the Sinhala alphabet, at home and in the village temple, by a monk, Andiris Gurunnanse. He also learned the Devanagari script and could recite by memory long sections of the Hitopadesa. After two years he was taken to a vernacular school where he prospered until 1897 when he was sent to an English school in Galle called Buona Vista . In the two years spent at the school Wickramasinghe became fluent in English as well as Latin. When his father died, he returned to a vernacular school in Ahangama and subsequently lost interest in schooling