Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The fact that Margaret Rumer Godden (GOD-uhn) spent significant portions of her early life both in England and in India exerted a resonant influence on her literary work. This becomes clear in Two Under the Indian Sun, written with her older sister Jon Godden, an account of a five-year period of their childhood in the Bengal town of Narayangunj, eleven miles from Dacca. Born in Eastbourne, Sussex, at an uncle’s house, Godden was the second of four daughters of Arthur Leigh Godden, a steamer agent, and Katherine Norah Hingley, who came from a hardworking Quaker family from the English Midlands. (The name Rumer is a family name from the novelist’s maternal grandmother.) At the age of six months Godden was taken to India with her family, and she spent her first five years happily there. In 1913, however, in accord with the British practice of sending children back to England for education, she and one of her sisters were sent to their paternal grandmother’s home in Maida Vale, London. When World War I made it dangerous for the two sisters to remain in London, they returned to India in November of 1914.
While the two girls were at their grandmother’s house in England, they were exposed to a rather strict religious routine and spent much time in and around St. Augustine’s Church. Later in India, they did not attend church except on holidays, but during her time in London Christianity had impressed itself deeply on Godden’s consciousness,...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Margaret Rumer Godden was born December 10, 1907, in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. She was known as Peggie until late in life. Although born in England, she grew up in India. From 1914, the family lived in the largest house in Narayanganj, East Bengal. Godden was the second of the four daughters of Arthur Leigh Godden, an agent for a Calcutta-based shipping company, and Katherine Norah Hingley Godden, descendant of a successful iron manufacturer. Godden and her youngest sister, Rose Mary (b. 1913), were born in Eastbourne, while their oldest sister, Jon (b. 1906), and their younger sister, Nancy (b. 1910), were born in India. The girls enjoyed the lavish lifestyle of English expatriates known as Anglo-Indians. Godden’s 1946 novel, The River, draws on her childhood memories of the time and place, from the house and gardens to the noise of the nearby jute factory.
Godden was five years old whe she and Jon were sent to England to attend school and live with their paternal relatives. As World War I began they returned to India, and they resumed their schooling after the war’s end. At Moira House, Godden’s English teacher, Mona Swann, encouraged her to write. Thirty years later, Godden’s own two daughters were boarding students and studied with Swann.
In 1924, Godden’s mother, with her four daughters, set out to tour the battlefields of France, but the mother became ill, and the group remained at Chateau Thierry on the Marne....
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Margaret Rumer Godden (GOD-uhn) was born in Eastbourne, Sussex, England, on December 10, 1907, at the height of British colonial power. She was the second of four children born to Arthur Leigh Godden, an independent-minded river navigation company manager, and Katherine Norah Hingley, a Midlander from a prosperous manufacturing family. Rumer moved from England to India with her family when she was nine months old. Thereafter until late life, she lived alternately in both countries, which offered abundant settings for storytelling, access to two distinct cultures, and insight into the plight of social outsiders.
With the exception of an unhappy year in London shortly before World War I, Godden spent a halcyon childhood beside tributaries of the Ganges River, along routes of the Calcutta-based steamship company that employed her father. Her early education was home-centered, fueled by lively family lore and the diverse Indian languages and traditions of household servants. Her parents and Aunt Mary Hingley taught leisurely paced lessons in math, spelling, literature, history, and the Bible, and Godden wrote her first tales and poems in paper books that she and her three sisters had cut and stitched themselves. On summer journeys, Godden absorbed even more of the vast landscape and complexity of India that would color the majority of her numerous books, including novels, short stories, biographies, and tales for children.
In 1920, Godden returned...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
In her original, edited, and translated work, Rumer Godden specialized in revealing the inner workings of families and communities. Her portrayals of actual families, as well as nuns living in a community, animals on an ark, or miniature dolls in a toy world, offer a real-life balance of joys and jealousies, love and rivalries, innocence and darkness. Although the author was inclined to process life by retreating with her pen rather than socializing in the mainstream, she created a substantial body of work that successfully re-created the exoticism of colonial and then independent India, as well as twentieth century England.
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Margaret Rumer Godden was born on December 10, 1907, in Sussex, England, but moved to India at the age of nine months. She lived in India with her father, who was a steamship agent in Bengal, her mother, and her three sisters until 1919. Godden later claimed that she and her sisters had the happiest of childhoods. Sent "home" to England at age twelve, Godden was unfamiliar with the culture and unhappy there. She moved from school to school for many months until settling, finally, at Moira House in Eastbourne. Encouraged to write, Godden published a book of poems with her own money while yet in her teens and sold not a copy.
In 1930 Godden returned to India and started a school for dance in Calcutta. While there, she married Laurence Sinclair Foster. Her first book, Chinese Puzzle, was accepted for publication during the week her first daughter, Jane, was born. Jane's sister, Paula, joined the family shortly thereafter. Godden juggled dual interests in dance and writing for many years.
A versatile and prolific writer, Godden has authored plays, poems, novels, short stories, biographies, scholarly works, and translations for readers of all ages. On occasion, she has collaborated with her sister Jon, also a well-respected writer and a painter. Two Under the Indian Sun, an autobiographical reminiscence, was co-authored by the Goddens in 1966.
Godden is perhaps best known as a writer of fiction for children and young...
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Margaret rumor Godwin, one of four daughters of Arthur Leigh and Katherine Godwin, was born December 10, 1907, in Sussex, England. When she was nine months old, the family moved to Bengal, India, where her father was employed as the local agent for a steamship line. Godwin remembers her childhood as a happy one. She and her sisters were cared for by Indian servants, played with their numerous pets (including a mongoose and a talking mynah bird), lived an active life and wrote stories. Two Under the Indian Sun (1966), a novel by Godwin and her sister Jon, is based on their teenage years in India. Godwin returned to England and attended school in London and at Mira House Eastbourne. She was unhappy in England and felt like an outsider.
After finishing school, Godwin moved between England and India, pursuing her interests in writing and dance. She had studied dance privately, and during the 1930s founded a children's dance school in Calcutta, India. In 1934 she married Laurence S. Foster, with whom she had two daughters. In 1949 she married James Haynes Dixon, who died in 1973.
Godwin began to publish novels for adults in 1936. Since then she has written a score of adult novels, as many young adult novels, a two-volume autobiography, and numerous short stories, essays and poems.
She lives in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and continues to write. A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep: A Memoir, the first volume of her autobiography...
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