Rumer Godden (Margaret Rumer Godden) Biography
(1907–98), (Margaret Rumer Godden), Black Narcissus, In This House of Brede, The River
British novelist, born in Sussex; she spent her childhood in India and from the age of 12 was educated in various English schools. She returned to India to start a dancing school, married, and spent the war years alone in Kashmir with her small children. The predominant themes in her novels are the lives of foreigners in Eastern settings, the inner thoughts of children, and religious life. Her first novel, Black Narcissus (1939), focused on an Anglican Sisterhood in India, and was later filmed; a later work, In This House of Brede (1969), is set in an English Catholic nunnery written after she converted to Roman Catholicism. India formed the background of The River (1946), amongst others, and was filmed by Jean Renoir in 1950. Ballet featured in A Candle for St Jude (1948); her understanding of children was shown in The Greengage Summer (1958) and The Battle of the Villa Florita (1963), both filmed, and in her many books for children. In A Fugue in Time (1945) and China Court (1961) she skilfully draws in the past with the present. Among Godden's later fictions are the novels Coromandel Sea Change (1991), a fairy tale of romance and political connivery set in a lushly described, almost mythologized modern South India; and Pippa Passes (1994), the story of a young ballet dancer coming to terms with adulthood and her developing sexual desires. There are two volumes of autobiography, A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep (1987) and A House with Four Rooms (1989).