Ray Richard Lycette was born in Levin, New Zealand, in 1929. His father, Ernest, was an English coalminer who enlisted as a private in the British Army in the First World War and left as a captain. Following emigration to New Zealand Ernest worked as a council overseer.
Ray worked hard, became dux of his college and was awarded a medical scholarship. He met and married Gillian while they were both students. After graduating, he became a pathologist and worked in Hawkes Bay for twelve years before moving to Hong Kong in 1973 with Gill and their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, while their three older children remained in New Zealand.
In Hong Kong he worked in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Kowloon city morgue, where he conducted post-mortems on swimmers escaping from China and anyone who died in suspicious circumstances in the city. Ray said all the events described in Fragrant Harbour were possible; he witnessed many of them, including the stock market bubble, and used written accounts from refugees to describe Wa Hing's rescue of his mistress.
Ray described Hong Kong in the seventies as a colony where four and a half million people lived in a social and economic system similar to England a hundred years earlier. He visited China during the Cultural Revolution and remained fascinated by Chinese history and politics all his life.
He and Gill witnessed great change in Hong Kong during the eighties, particularly during Governor MacLehose's term. They lived in Hong Kong until 1986, making friends with many Chinese and Europeans from all levels of society. They then migrated to Australia where Ray worked as a locum pathologist for Sullivan and Nicolaides Pathology, one of the country's largest and most respected pathology services, until his retirement in 2002.
Ray died in 2012.
Fragrant Harbour has been edited by his daughter, Margaret Atkin, and his widow, Gillian Lycette.