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Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Screenwriter, Dies at 85

Published on : April 03, 2013
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Screenwriter, Dies at 85


Ruth Prawer Jhabvala , the German-born screenwriter and novelist who, as the writing member of the Merchant Ivory filmmaking team, won two Academy Awards for adaptations of genteel, class-conscious E. M. Forster novels, died on Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 85.



James Ivory, the director with whom she collaborated, said the cause was complications of a pulmonary condition.

Mrs. Jhabvala (pronounced JOB-vahla) was already well established as an author when she began her screenwriting career with the producer Ismail Merchant and Mr. Ivory. Her 1975 novel, “Heat and Dust,” about an Englishwoman exploring a family scandal in India, received the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s highest literary honor. She wrote the screenplay for the Merchant Ivory version in 1983 as well.

Over four decades, beginning in 1963, Mrs. Jhabvala made 22 films with Mr. Merchant and Mr. Ivory, all examining culture in one way or another, often one that has vanished. Their first film to attract wide attention was “The Europeans” (1979), based on a Henry James novel set in mid-19th-century New England. Their successful “Room With a View” (1986), based on Forster’s novel about a sheltered young Englishwoman who has a life-changing experience on holiday in Italy, brought Mrs. Jhabvala the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. click here

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