Picture of author.

Rumer Godden (1907–1998)

Author of In This House of Brede

90+ Works 13,543 Members 277 Reviews 64 Favorited

About the Author

Margaret Rumer Godden was born Dec. 10, 1907, in Sussex, England. She was nine months old when her family moved to India, where her father ran a shipping line. She returned to London at age 20 to learn how to teach dance to children, and opened a school back in India. Returning to England while she show more was pregnant, she wrote her first book, "Chinese Puzzle," published in 1936. Her marriage to a stockbroker, Laurence Sinclair Foster, ended in 1941, leaving her penniless. In an effort to pay off her former husband's debts, Godden moved her family into a mountain cottage where she ran a school, made herbal teas for sale, and wrote books. Another novel of India, "The River," published in 1949, was one of her most acclaimed books and was made into a film by Jean Renoir in 1951. She returned to England to stay in 1945. Rumer Godden was the author of more than 60 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry, plays and non-fiction. She published her 21st novel, "Cromartie vs. the God Shiva," in 1997. Rumer Godden died a year later on November 8, 1998, in Thornhill, Scotland, at the age of 90. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Please don't combine this author with her sister Jon Godden.

Image credit: Courtesy of Jane Murray Flutter.


Works by Rumer Godden

In This House of Brede (1969) 1,425 copies
The Story of Holly and Ivy (1958) 1,328 copies
The Greengage Summer (1958) 736 copies
An Episode of Sparrows (1955) 679 copies
The Dolls' House (1947) 655 copies
Black Narcissus (1939) 572 copies
The Diddakoi (1972) 468 copies
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy (1979) 400 copies
The Kitchen Madonna (1967) 345 copies
Kingfishers Catch Fire (1953) 341 copies
The Peacock Spring (1975) 332 copies
Two Under the Indian Sun (1966) 329 copies
Little Plum (1963) 322 copies
The River (1946) 306 copies
Thursday's Children (1984) 209 copies
The Mousewife (1951) 209 copies
Mouse House (1957) 178 copies
Coromandel Sea Change (1991) 170 copies
A Candle for St. Jude (1948) 166 copies
A House with Four Rooms (1989) 155 copies
Listen to the Nightingale (1992) 141 copies
Breakfast with the Nikolides (1942) 140 copies
Impunity Jane (1656) 138 copies
Cromartie vs the God Shiva (1997) 125 copies
Four Dolls (1983) 118 copies
A Breath of Air (1950) 114 copies
The Dark Horse (1981) 112 copies
The Dragon of Og (1981) 111 copies
The Fairy Doll (1956) 111 copies
The Rocking Horse Secret (1977) 108 copies
Pippa Passes (1994) 85 copies
The Lady and the Unicorn (1937) 79 copies
Candy Floss (1960) 78 copies
Home is the Sailor (1964) 67 copies
A Kindle of Kittens (1978) 63 copies
Great Grandfather's House (1708) 59 copies
St. Jerome and the Lion (1961) 58 copies
Fu-Dog (1989) 51 copies
Mr. McFadden's Hallowe'en (1975) 49 copies
Gulbadan (1980) 47 copies
Operation Sippacik (1664) 42 copies
Thus Far and No Further (1943) 39 copies
Candy Floss / Impunity Jane (1975) 38 copies
The River [1951 film] (1951) — Screenwriter/Original novel — 36 copies
Gypsy, Gypsy (1940) 36 copies
The Valiant Chatti-Maker (1777) 32 copies
Shiva's Pigeons (1972) 28 copies
The Raphael Bible (1732) 27 copies
Gone: a thread of stories (1940) 23 copies
Mouse Time: Two Stories (1984) 18 copies
In Noah's Ark (1949) 15 copies
Cockcrow to Starlight (1996) 14 copies
Swans and Turtles (1968) 13 copies
Indian Dust: Stories (1989) 8 copies
The Little Chair (1996) 5 copies
The Greengage Summer [1961 film] (1961) — Screenplay — 3 copies
Chinese Puzzle 3 copies
Round the Day (1966) 1 copy
Nella città una rosa (2020) 1 copy
Choir and Prayers: 2 (1965) 1 copy
Premiēre 1 copy

Associated Works

The Little Bookroom (1955) — Afterword, some editions — 582 copies
Prayers from the Ark (1947) — Translator, some editions — 305 copies
Prayers from the Ark and The Creatures' Choir (1976) — Translator, some editions — 154 copies
Read With Me (1965) — Contributor — 129 copies
Reader's Digest Great Biographies 01 (1987) — Contributor — 120 copies
Black Narcissus [1947 film] (1947) — Original novel — 99 copies
The Creatures' Choir (1965) — Translator, some editions — 58 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1968 v04 (1968) — Contributor — 50 copies
Great short stories of the English-speaking world (1977) — Introduction — 31 copies
Love Stories (1975) — Contributor — 19 copies
Mrs. Manders' cook book (1968) — Editor — 16 copies
In This House of Brede [1975 film] (1975) — Original book — 15 copies
The Real Thing: Seven Stories About Love (1979) — Contributor — 7 copies
Enchantment [1948 film] (1948) — Original book — 3 copies
Black Narcissus [2020 miniseries] — Original book — 2 copies
The Battle of the Villa Fiorita [1965 film] (1965) — Original book — 1 copy


20th century (102) animals (76) autobiography (96) ballet (89) biography (81) British (141) British literature (81) children (208) children's (410) children's fiction (176) children's literature (148) Christmas (262) coming of age (68) dolls (250) England (245) English (70) family (101) fantasy (106) fiction (2,107) France (82) Godden (180) historical fiction (107) India (393) juvenile (73) Kindle (72) literature (82) memoir (115) non-fiction (84) novel (250) nuns (158) orphans (69) own (63) picture book (110) poetry (124) read (154) religion (100) Rumer Godden (95) short stories (133) to-read (426) Virago Modern Classics (60)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Godden, Margaret Rumer (born)
Haynes-Dixon, Margaret Rumer Godden (married)
Date of death
Burial location
Rye, East Sussex, England, UK
Eastbourne, Sussex, England, UK
Place of death
Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, UK
Places of residence
Narayanganj, India (now Bangladesh)
Calcutta, India
Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, UK
Lamb House, Rye, East Sussex, England, UK
Eastbourne, Sussex, England, UK
London, England, UK (show all 7)
Kashmir, India
Moira House School, Eastbourne, Sussex, England, UK
privately educated
dance teacher
children's book author
Godden, Jon (sister)
Key, Thomas Hewitt (great-great-grandfather)
Roman Catholic Church
Awards and honors
Order of the British Empire (Officer, 1993)
Edith Haggard
Short biography
Rumer Godden wrote some 60 works, including novels, children's books, biographies, and poetry, a number of them drawing on her experiences of life growing up in British India and then working there as an adult. Her portrayals of the secret thoughts and confusions of childhood are especially noteworthy.
Disambiguation notice

Please don't combine this author with her sister Jon Godden.



July Read: Rumer Godden in Virago Modern Classics (October 2017)
December 2011: Rumer Godden in Monthly Author Reads (February 2012)


This was a book club edition and I'm thinking I got it new in 1979. I have no idea why I would've gotten it - maybe it was one of those things were the book was sent to you automatically if you didn't turn it down beforehand - because I don't believe at that age I would've selected a 'religious' book.

It was excellent and not what I expected at all; yes, it was a 'religious' book, about a woman who became a nun and all that that entailed (which was very interesting), but there was also the backstory about this woman's life before becoming a nun. I'm so glad I finally read it. And honestly, I felt uplifted after reading it.… (more)
LisaMorr | 14 other reviews | May 2, 2024 |
Did you know you can ruin a perfectly lovely, enjoyable book in the last 10 pages??? I found out you can.

[China Court] is the story of five generations of a family living in southwestern England. Their family home is named China Court because of the money their family made in trade with China in the 1800s. When Mrs. Quin, a family matriarch from the third generation, passes away, the family story begins to be explored. Adza and Eustace have eight children. "The brood" gives way to one son, his Irish wife and their children, one of who marries Ripsie (Mrs. Quin). Tracy, part of the fifth generation, returns for her grandmother's funeral. The writing swirls around these generations - Godden doesn't take the easy way out and write a dual (or quintuple!) timeline. Instead, stories give way to other stories up and down the timeline. There are enough cues to keep the reader pretty well-oriented. I was highly impressed by this. So much fun to read a novel with interesting characters and a masterfully managed plot and timeline.

And then, the end . . .
Terrible, really terrible. There's a strange stipulation in Mrs. Quin's will about Tracy marrying the man (Peter) who has been working a farm on China Court's land. At first it seems that Godden is going to somehow manage this into working in a somewhat acceptable manner. But then there is an out of place, violent, scene between Tracy and Peter that ends the book with a total acceptance of the violence - I guess as passion? I didn't get it. I was floored and upset.

This was so disappointing after I absolutely loved [In This House of Brede] and [The Greengage Summer]. Sad.
… (more)
1 vote
japaul22 | 13 other reviews | Apr 12, 2024 |
I consider this book by Rumer Godden to be a good introduction to Gulbadan's story. Rumer Godden was not a historian and may have been excited when she read the "Humayun-Nama," written by Gulbadan-his sister.
The narrative is sparse, and you get glimpses of Gulbadan's character. Rumer Godden's British heritage the writing, especially when she writes about Gulbadan's (and Hamida's) reactions to Hindu customs.
While not an excellent or authoritative book, it is a good enough introduction to Gulbadan Begum's fascinating life.… (more)
RajivC | 2 other reviews | Mar 26, 2024 |
The book is a charming memoir. I hesitate to call it an autobiography. Jon and Rumer Godden wrote this memoir jointly of their childhood in India. They lived in India during the First World War, and their memory seems excellent.
There is an innocence in the writing, which is amazing, considering they wrote the book many years later. The two sisters create a wonderful atmosphere, and there are moments when you can almost smell the old mud of India and visualize the people surrounding them.
It is possible to visualize two young girls living in what is now Bangladesh and enjoying the Indian sun. They were not rich and wrote about their pecuniary constraints without affectation. The sisters compared life in India with life in England. When they sailed back to England, they could not (at first) accept England as home.
Most of us forget that, for many English people, India was home but not home.
A charming book, well worth reading if you want to get a glimpse of life in the Raj, through the eyes of young children.
… (more)
RajivC | 5 other reviews | Feb 20, 2024 |


1960s (1)


You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs