Rumer Godden Reading Week #comingsoon

Announcing Rumer Godden Reading Week!

The 10th December is Rumer Godden’s birthday. To celebrate, I will be hosting a Rumer Godden reading week from Saturday 4th December to Sunday 12th December 2021.

Margaret Rumer Godden was born in 1907 in Sussex, but spent most of her childhood moving between India and boarding school back in the UK. Her father was a shipping company executive, who worked for the Brahmaputra Steam Navigation Company. She trained as a dance teacher and returned to Calcutta in 1925 to teach dance to English and Indian children. She and her sister, Nancy, ran the school for over twenty years.

She was married in 1934 to a stock broker, Laurence Sinclair Foster, when she discovered she was pregnant. The baby died shortly after birth, but they went on to have two more daughters, Jane and Paula. By all accounts it was an unhappy marriage, and in 1941 he had left to join the army. Godden retreated to Kashmir with her daughters to write, until a cook attempted to poison them. In 1945 she returned to England with the girls so she could focus on her writing. She remarried James Haynes Dixon, a civil servant, in 1949.

In the early 1950’s she became interested in religion, officially converting to Catholicism in 1968. “I like the way everything is clear and concise,” she said about her new religion. “You’ll always be forgiven but you must know the rules.

She was awarded an OBE in 1993.

She died on the 8th November 1998.

Carol @Journey and Destination has been getting into Rumer Godden lately, which reminded me that I brought several of her books a few years ago, after I read and enjoyed The Greengage Summer. They are:

  • Black Narcissus
  • Coromandel Sea Change
  • The Peacock Spring

Godden has a few more options you can choose from though!

Books for adults

When one came to know them it was surprising how childish grown people could be.



  • 1943 Rungli-Rungliot – republished in 1961 as Thus Far and No Further
  • 1945 Bengal Journey: A story of the part played by women in the province, 1939–1945
  • 1955 Hans Christian Andersen (biography)
  • 1966 Two Under the Indian Sun (childhood memories – written with Jon Godden)
  • 1968 Mrs. Manders’ Cook Book
  • 1971 The Tale of the Tales: Beatrix Potter Ballet
  • 1972 Shiva’s Pigeons (written with Jon Godden)
  • 1977 The Butterfly Lions
  • 1980 Gulbadan: Portrait of a Rose Princess At the Mughal Court
  • 1987 A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep (autobiography) [review by Leaves & Pages]
  • 1989 A House with Four Rooms (autobiography) [review by Leaves & Pages]

Children’s books

There are several things children will not put up with in a book. You have to have a proper beginning and an end; you cannot have flashbacks. Then you can’t have a lot of description: keep it to a minimum. And you must be very careful with words. I find I use fewer, and they have to fit the case exactly and be chosen with extreme care.

  • 1947 The Doll’s House [review by Buried in Print]
  • 1951 The Mousewife [review by Katrina @Pining For the West]
  • 1952 Mouse House
  • 1954 Impunity Jane: The Story of a Pocket Doll
  • 1956 The Fairy Doll
  • 1958 The Story of Holly and Ivy [review by Leaves & Pages]
  • 1960 Candy Floss
  • 1961 Saint Jerome and the Lion 
  • 1961 Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
  • 1963 Little Plum, the sequel to Miss Happiness and Miss Flower
  • 1964 Home is the Sailor
  • 1967 The Kitchen Madonna
  • 1969 Operation Sippacik
  • 1972 The Diddakoi (also published as Gypsy Girl) [review by Leaves & Pages]
  • 1972 The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle
  • 1975 Mr. McFadden’s Hallowe’en
  • 1977 The Rocking Horse Secret
  • 1978 A Kindle of Kittens
  • 1981 The Dragon of Og
  • 1983 Four Dolls
  • 1983 The Valiant Chatti-Maker
  • 1984 Mouse Time: Two Stories
  • 1990 Fu-Dog
  • 1992 Great Grandfather’s House
  • 1992 Listen to the Nightingale
  • 1996 The Little Chair
  • 1996 Premlata and the Festival of Lights


  • 1949 In Noah’s Ark
  • 1968 A Letter to the World (written with Emily Dickinson)
  • 1996 Cockcrow to Starlight: A Day Full of Poetry (anthology for children)
  • 1996 A Pocket Book of Spiritual Poems

There is a Rumer Godden Literary Trust if you would like to read up on any of her books or keep up with their latest news. Rosie Thomas wrote a glowing review in The Guardian back in 2013 about the joy of rereading Godden as an adult. And last year, Hugh Schofield of the BBC went in search of the truth behind The Greengage Summer.

I will have just completed another AusReading Month as Rumer Godden reading week begins. In previous years I have struggled to write reviews or blog consistently in December. I’m hoping a gentle Godden reading week will be the rest cure I need after such a busy month.

Will you join me?


This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

53 thoughts on “Rumer Godden Reading Week #comingsoon

  1. I had never heard of this author, but she sounds fascinating. I have requested several of her novels from the library and will give them a try. Thanks for expanding my reading horizons!


    1. Glad you will be joining us Mary.

      I had heard vaguely about The Greengage Summer over the years (there was an old movie of it & of Black Narcissus that I know about) but then Pan Macmillan reissued a few of her books in 2013. The Greengage Summer was set in 1920’s France – enough said 🙂

      I then heard about one of her children’s books, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, thanks to an architecture and design book I was reading about female Australian architects. One of them mentioned that her early obsession for building and design was inspired by MHAMF. I was intrigued, bought a copy for niece, and read it on the side.

      Over the years, I have came across other bloggers who adore Godden – she seems to inspire that kind of devotion in her readers – so I’m keen to try more. They are easy reads but with emotional depth and interesting, sometimes provocative topics.


  2. This sounds great. I hadn’t come across Rumer Godden reading week before. I’ve known of her forever but never read her yet. I have An Episode of Sparrows on my TBR so will try and join in with that and if I can manage to get my hands on any of the doll books, will try and do that as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in The Greengage Summer, even as it often left me scratching my head in bemusement and how times have changed. I’m probably keen to try one of her Indian stories next. She also has a few written later in life that reflect her interest in Catholicism – something for everyone’s tastes 🙂
      I’ve also heard that her autobiography is a terrific read.


  3. I have a couple of her books but they’re in storage in London! Argh! I will have to see what’s available in my local library. She was a prolific writer by the looks of things!


    1. I was surprised to see just how many books! I read somewhere that she had some books that she felt compelled to write, and others that she just wrote. Therefore, as with most prolific writers, some books are ‘better’ than others.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading The Greengage Summer when I was a girl, I binged on Rumer Godden in the 1990s. I’ve read eight of her novels and Two Under the Indian Sun written with her sister Jon, and I’ve also read her biography by Anne Chisholm.
    Alas, not one of these is reviewed on my blog… only The WInter’s Tale by Jon Godden. But I have The River on the TBR and (although I have not the faintest idea how I will fit it in), I will read that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the thing with Godden! I’m constantly amazed who has read her and has been smitten. After dipping into the wikipedia page for her and the dedicated website, I’m very keen to read her autobiography…and now you tell me there is a biography as well! Excellent news.

      Have you ever seen any of the movies made from her books Lisa?


        1. Black Narcissus in the 40’s with Deborah Kerr and a recent miniseries was done last year (SBS I think). The Greengage Summer was done in the 60’s. There are more, but these are ones that I know.


  5. I’ve been reading her books since the early 1970s but I still have a lot to read, so I’m happy to join in. Godden spent the last twenty years of her life in Scotland and I’ve been impressed by how well she was able to write in dialect and had obviously absorbed the atmosphere.


    1. Ahhh, I didn’t know that about the last twenty years of her life, Katrina! It certainly sounds like she had a very interesting life that she was happy to mine for her stories.
      When I started looking for review links to her books, I was impressed that each blogger I found had not only read one book by Godden, but had read many books by Godden. She seems to inspire that kind of devotion in her fans 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand completely.
      I’ve had to abandon my planned Edith Trilogy readalong for the last part of this year. I simply could not fit it in. A reading week is my consolation prize 🙂
      Hopefully 2022 will be my year with Edith instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have Black Narcissus on my Classics Club list, so will try to join in with this. I’ve never read Rumer Godden before, so I’m looking forward to it!


  7. I will join! Rumer Godden is one author I am wary off despite her long association with India. Maybe because I watched the film adaptation of Black Narcissus and did not like it! But high time I overcame a teenage prejudice and tried actually reading her works! So me will be there !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m assuming her views on India will have a very colonial lens, but she did live there for a large part of her life, and I am very curious to see what she has to say….and now what you will think of it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I heard about this on Paula’s Winding Up the Week post – lovely idea! I’ve really enjoyed the Godden I’ve read and I have The River and Breakfast with the Nikolides in the TBR so I hope to join in. My blogging pace has not been great this year, but it will be wonderful to read everyone’s posts even if I don’t manage to post myself.


  9. Looking forward to joining the Rumer Godden Reading Week! I read her books as a child but had forgotten all about them until I got hold of a 1955 copy of ‘The Dolls House’ recently from my local secondhand bookshop (Abacus Books in north west England – a treasure trove!). It is a beautiful little thing with lovely illustrations and you have given me an excuse to put it nearer the top of the TBR pile!


  10. Anyone looking to participate but having read a number of her novels already might be interested in her autobiographical writing; they were far more engaging volumes than I’d expected. My library card has been maxed for months now, thanks to so many lovely new volumes rushing in for the current season, but if there’s any wriggle room, I’d welcome the opportunity to revisit (and “discover”) some of her children’s books. Old faves or new faves.

    Liked by 1 person

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