Oscar-winning screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala passes away in New York

The novelist-screenwriter was part of the Merchant-Ivory Productions team

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the German-born novelist and award-winning screenwriter for Merchant-Ivory Productions, died Wednesday at her home in New York. She is survived by three daughters.

The 85-year old writer, who set the locale of many of her stories in India, was suffering from pulmonary disorder, US media reported, quoting filmmaker James Ivory. Jhabvala was associated with Ivory since the 1960s.

After moving to New Delhi with her Indian-born husband Cyrus H Jhabvala in the 1950s, Ruth wrote a series of novels and short stories about India. She was invited in 1961 to write the script for The Householder by Ismail Merchant, a young producer of Indian origin. The movie was made by James Ivory in 1963.

The trio went to become the most creative team in the crossover movie industry, making more than 20 films. Jhabvala won the Oscar in 1987 and 1993 for her screenplays of the A Room with a View and Howards End by EM Forster.

Born Ruth Prawer in Cologne, Germany to Jewish parents, the family fled the Nazi regime in 1939 to Britain. She became a British citizen in 1948 and received her master’s degree from the University of London in 1951. She married Cyrus, an Indian Parsi architect, the same year and came to India.

May her soul rest in peace.