Happy Birthday Rumer!

Today, December 10, Rumer Godden would have celebrated her 114th birthday.

To celebrate, I have pulled together a few well-known quotes attributed to Godden. For more photos, please click on the link to the Literary Trust above.

On Writing:

  • To me and my kind life itself is a story and we have to tell it in stories – that is the way it falls.
  • I suppose the more you have to do, the more you learn to organize and concentrate-or else get fragmented into bits. I have learned to use my ‘ten minutes’. I once thought it was not worth sitting down for a time as short as that; now I know differently and, if I have ten minutes, I use them, even if they bring only two lines, and it keeps the book alive.
  • Every piece of writing… starts from what I call a grit… a sight or sound, a sentence or a happening that does not pass away… but quite inexplicably lodges in the mind.

On Family:

  • I loved Mr. Darcy far more than any of my own husbands.
  • Nothing is harder to recapture than the good parts of a failed marriage.
  • You can be a nuisance to your family. You mustn’t be a nuisance to your friends.

On Living in India:

  • When I was a child the old shibboleth still prevailed that the men had contact with all the Indians but the women and children were not supposed to mix. We were not allowed to play with Indian children, nor they with us. A Passage To India made me see we were like the Turtons. After that I astonished my father and mother by insisting that I had lessons in Hinduism and was allowed to visit Indians and speak to them.
Godden in 1970 (Godfrey Argent/National Portrait Gallery)


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 this land’s first storytellers.

9 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Rumer!

  1. That’s the second time in about 15 minutes I’ve thought I must read A Passage to India, that’s so strange! Thank you for this, you’ve inspired me to read more of her – having stopped with Black Narcissus!


  2. My goodness, the week is over already! How did that happen? I’ve got Coromandel Sea Change on the coffee table but haven’t had a chance to open it…well I will just read it late, that’s all. Thanks for doing this, Brona!


    1. Almost over Jean! You have until the 12th to finish a book. I read Coromandel Sea Change last weekend in about 3-4 sittings. But we did have a particularly miserable, wet, grey weekend perfect reading and not much else.


  3. I read several of Rumer Godden’s novels, each set in India, and loved them. Interesting insights on her getting her parents to allow those social changes for her.


  4. These are fabulous quotes – she’s so precise and engaging, isn’t she? Like Jane, I’ve recently thought I should read A Passage to India – it’s one of Forster’s I’ve never got to and I found a really nice hardback edition.

    Liked by 1 person

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