R.I.P. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Oscar-winning screenwriter and acclaimed novelist, died today at her home in New York City. She was 85. Jhabvala collaborated with producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory on more than 20 films over a 40-year period until Merchant’s death in 2005. It was with the Merchant/Ivory team that she won Oscars in 1987 and 1993 for her screenplays of A Room With A View and Howards End, both adapted from Edwardian-era novels by E.M. Forster. Her other movie credits include The Remains Of The Day, for which she received a third screenwriting Academy Award nomination, Roseland and Mr. And Mrs. Bridge. Her most controversial work was her original screenplay for 1995′s Jefferson In Paris. Nick Nolte played Thomas Jefferson as an envoy to France in the 1780s in the film which depicted a long-rumored love affair between Jefferson and his young slave, Sally Hemings. “Jefferson was a lonely widower, and in Paris he was very homesick,” she told the Guardian in 1995. “Sally was his wife’s half sister … it would almost have been strange if something had not happened.” Her novel Heat And Dust, a romance about a young woman living in India in the 1920s, won Britain’s Booker Prize in 1975, and was adapted for the big screen in 1983. Jhabvala most recently penned the screenplay for 2009′s The City Of Your Final Destination, about a graduate student’s journey through South America.

Comments (10)

  • A true loss. What a fantastic writer.

    Comment by Mark Ross — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:21pm PDT  
  • She will be deeply missed and reverently remembered. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY remains one of the sharpest, most devastating adaptations ever.

    Comment by Banjoman — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:39pm PDT  
    • Benjamon, those are beautiful comments and that is a perfect assessment of ‘Remains’.

      Comment by Carl — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 3:21pm PDT  
  • Can you imagine collaborating with the same director and producer 20 times. Truly unheard of. She became a brand name writer and wrote some beautiful scripts.

    Comment by Brad — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:59pm PDT  
    • I know! I really hope that one day we’ll see another team like Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala, but I doubt it.

      Comment by Banjoman — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:24pm PDT  
  • What a class act and wonderful collaborator. I hope we get to see talented people comin together so nicely

    Comment by Steven — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:43pm PDT  
  • What a fantastic scribe and exemplar of a life well lived. If I could have 1/5 the career and 2/3 the lifespan of Ms. Ruth Jhabvala, I’d consider myself most blessed. May she rest in peace. My condolences to her loved ones.

    Comment by bobby the saint — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 2:55pm PDT  
  • I was young when I first saw ‘A Room With A View’, and I was completely and utterly transfixed. It is one of the few films to make me cry from the sheer beauty of it. I had never seen a film that so perfectly wove together breathtaking cinematography, a stunning score and such magnificent dialogue. I know it is not the only film to do so, but for me there will never be another one better. Ismail Merchant is gone as is Tony Pierce-Roberts, and now Ms Jhabvala. I am so, so sad.

    Comment by Carl — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 3:14pm PDT  
  • A few weeks ago I thoroughly savored what I imagine was her last short story, The Judge’s Will, which appeared in The New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2013/03/25/130325fi_fiction_jhabvala. It was, at the very least, a vivid reminder of what a master can do with her craft. Ms. Jhabvala is an inspiration.

    Comment by Diana — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 4:47pm PDT  
  • We recently hosted the lady at a WGAe event. She was timid, soft spoken and offered amazing adaptation advice. I asked her to autograph my Room With A View DVD. She looked at me cockeyed and obliged. I guess she never had a groupie, though we are all fans.

    I cherish my autograph and the dear lady. Thank you for all the suburb memories. I will truly miss your genius.


    Comment by Arno — Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 7:37am PDT  

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