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M(ary) M(argaret) (Mollie Hamilton Kaye Mollie Kaye) (1908-2004) Biography

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OBITUARY NOTICE—Born August 21, 1908, in Simla, India; died January 29, 2004, in Lavenham, Suffolk, England. Author. Kaye was best known for her epic novel set in India during the British Raj, The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British intelligence officer who at one time was also head of the Indian state of Rajputana, Kaye was initially raised largely by Indian servants and once said she learned to speak Hindustani before English. Her love of stories began when she was taken by her nurse to listen to the local storytellers. By the age of ten, she was saddened when her parents sent her to England to attend boarding school. When her father joined the rest of his family in England, Kaye thought that she would never see India again. But he was soon assigned to a new job in India, and in 1926 they returned. Enjoying a high life of British privilege within an exotic Indian setting, Kaye found happiness until her father's death in 1935. Now with little money, she had to return to England to find employment, where she discovered she had a talent for writing and illustrating children's books. Her income from the "Potter Pinner" series (1937-45) allowed her to return to her beloved India. After marrying and divorcing her first husband there, she married again, this time to an army officer. In the meantime, she continued writing, turning her hand to mystery novels such as Six Bars at Seven (1940), and Death Walked in Kashmir (1953). Her husband's rotating army assignments led to the couple traveling around the world, and Kaye's mystery novels were consequently set in various locales as well, such as in Death Walked in Berlin (1955) and Death Walked in Cyprus (1956). She also penned historical novels at this time, including Shadow of the Moon (1956) and Trade Wind (1963). During the 1960s, Kaye continued to write mysteries and children's books, but a bout with cancer in the mid-1960s put a temporary hold on her work. Recovering from her illness, she resumed writing when her husband retired. Her next big project was the epic-length The Far Pavilions, a novel that has been described as a Gone with the Wind set in India. The book was later adapted as a miniseries in 1984. After the novel became a best-seller, Kaye wrote two more children's stories, Thistledown (1982) and The Ordinary Princess (1980), edited works by Rudyard Kipling, and completed three volumes of autobiography: The Sun in the Morning: My Early Years in India and England (1990), Golden Afternoon: Volume II of the Autobiography of M. M. Kaye (1998), and Enchanted Evening: Being the Third Part of "Share of Summer," Her Autobiography (1999).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Independent (London, England), February 5, 2004, p. 18.

Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2004, p. B10.

New York Times, February 5, 2004, p. A29.

Times (London, England), January 31, 2004.

Washington Post, February 2, 2004, p. B6.

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