Jane (Foster) Murray Flutter Paula (Foster) Kenilworth
Margaret Rumer GoddenOBE (10 December 1907 - 8 November 1998) was an English author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books written under the name of Rumer Godden. Nine of her works have been made into films, most notably Black Narcissus in 1947.
Cover of Black Narcissus (1939), published by Little Brown Co.
Godden was born in Eastbourne,Sussex, England. She grew up with her three sisters in Narayanganj, colonial India (now in Bangladesh), where her father, a shipping company executive, worked for the Brahmaputra Steam Navigation Company. Her parents sent the girls to England for schooling, as was the custom of the time, but brought them back to Narayanganj when the First World War began. Godden returned to the United Kingdom with her sisters to continue her interrupted schooling in 1920, spending time at Moira House Girls School in Eastbourne and eventually training as a dance teacher. She went back to Calcutta in 1925 and opened a dance school for English and Indian children. Godden ran the school for 20 years with the help of her sister Nancy. During this time she published her first best-seller, the 1939 novel Black Narcissus.
The Greengage Summer (1958), 1962 Pan paperback edition
In 1942, after eight years in an unhappy marriage (one she entered into in 1934 because she was pregnant), she moved with her two daughters, Jane and Paula,  (her husband Laurence Foster having joined the army) to Kashmir, living first on a houseboat and then in a rented house where she started a farm. The novel Kingfishers Catch Fire was based on her time in Kashmir. After a mysterious incident in which it appeared that an attempt had been made to poison both her and her daughters, she returned to Calcutta in 1944. She returned to the United Kingdom in 1945 to concentrate on her writing, frequently moving house but living mostly in Sussex and London. She was divorced in 1948. After returning from America to oversee the script for the movie of her book The River, Godden married civil servant James Haynes Dixon on 26November 1949.
In the early 1950s Godden became interested in the Catholic Church, though she did not officially convert until 1968, and several of her later novels contain sympathetic portrayals of Catholic priests and nuns. In addition to Black Narcissus, two of her books deal with the subject of women in religious communities. In Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy and In This House of Brede she acutely examined the balance between the mystical, spiritual aspects of religion and the practical, human realities of religious life.
A number of Godden's novels are set in India, the atmosphere of which she evokes through all the senses; her writing is vivid with detail of smells, textures, light, flowers, noises and tactile experiences. Her books for children, especially her several doll stories, strongly convey the secret thoughts, confusions, disappointments and aspirations of childhood. Her plots often involve unusual young people not recognized for their talents by ordinary lower- or middle-class people but supported by the educated, rich, and upper-class, to the anger, resentment, and puzzlement of their relatives. She won a 1972 Whitbread award for The Diddakoi, a young adult novel about Gypsies, televised by the BBC as Kizzy.
Rumer Godden died on 8 November 1998 at the age of 90 after a series of strokes; her ashes were buried with those of her second husband in Rye.
Books for adults
1936 Chinese Puzzle, her first published book-length work
1937 The Lady and the Unicorn
1939 Black Narcissus, a story about the disorientation of British Anglican nuns in India; the first of her books to be adapted for the screen, as the film of the same name in 1947; a radio adaptation was also broadcast in 2008.
1968 Gone: A Thread of Stories (written with Jon Godden)
1968 Swans and Turtles (short stories)
1969 In This House of Brede, follows Philippa along with other cloistered Benedictine nuns in the abbey of Brede in Sussex, through Philippa's first years in the abbey; made into a 1975 television film starring Diana Rigg
1975 The Peacock Spring, adapted for television in 1995
1979 Five For Sorrow, Ten For Joy
1981 The Dark Horse
1984 Thursday's Children
1989 Indian Dust (written with Jon Godden)
1990 Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love: Stories (written with Jon Godden)
1991 Coromandel Sea Change
1994 Pippa Passes
1997 Cromartie vs. the God Shiva, her last novel
1943 Rungli-Rungliot - republished in 1961 as Thus Far and No Further
1945 Bengal Journey: A story of the part played by women in the province, 1939-1945
1955 Hans Christian Andersen (biography)
1966 Two Under the Indian Sun (childhood memories - written with Jon Godden)
1968 Mrs. Manders' Cook Book
1971 The Tale of the Tales: Beatrix Potter Ballet
1972 Shiva's Pigeons (written with Jon Godden)
1977 The Butterfly Lions
1980 Gulbadan: Portrait of a Rose Princess At the Mughal Court
1987 A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep, an autobiography