MacArthur Fellows Program

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Novelist and Screenwriter | Class of March 1984

Novelist and Screenwriter
New York, New York
57 at time of award
April 3, 2013
Published March 1, 1984

About Ruth's Work

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was a writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays.

Jhabvala lived in India, the setting for her early work, for twenty-four years.  The themes of Indian society and Europeans living in India dominated her stories from 1955 to 1975, a selection of which can be found in Out of India (1986).  After moving to the United States, her writings about America retained Indian undertones.  Her book, Three Continents (1987), was concerned with the three continents where she lived and worked.


After 1962, Jhabvala closely collaborated with filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant on several films reflecting the same India/U.S. dichotomy: Shakespeare Wallah (1966) and The Autobiography of a Princess (1975) focus on India, while Roseland (1977) is set in the United States.  The creative team also produced American and English classics, including The Bostonians (1984), A Room with a View (1986), and Howards End (1992) and films based on biographical studies of Thomas Jefferson, entitled Jefferson in Paris (1995) and of Pablo Picasso, entitled Surviving Picasso (1996).

Jhabvala emigrated to England in 1939, to India in 1951, and to the United States in 1975.  She received an M.A. (1951) from Queen Mary College, University of London. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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