February 5, 2004 by

M.M. Kaye


Categories: Writers/Editors

Mary Margaret Kaye, the novelist best known for writing “The Far Pavilions,” died on Jan. 29. Cause of death was not released. She was 95.
Kaye’s father, Sir Cecil Kaye, was a cipher expert in the Indian Civil Service. She spent much of her youth in Simla, a town near the Himalayas, playing with the Indian servants, visiting bazaars and listening to local storytellers. At 10, she was shipped off to boarding school in England, but the moment she graduated, Kaye returned to the one place she always called home: India.
In 1935, Kaye’s father died. She moved back to England and began her writing career, penning greeting cards and children’s books under the name Mollie Kaye. Within five years, she’d saved up enough money to return to India, where she met and married Maj. Gen. Goff Hamilton, who served with Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides. The couple would move 27 times during their marriage, and each location provided Kaye with fodder for her books.
Kaye wrote the “Death” detective series (“Death Walks in Berlin,” “Death Walks in Cyprus”), and several historical novels (“Shadow of the Moon,” “Trade Wind”). She then spent 15 years working on “The Far Pavilions,” a 1,000-page, historical romance novel that was published in 1978. The sweeping saga of forbidden love sold millions of copies and was adapted into a six-hour TV miniseries starring Ben Cross and Amy Irving. The book was so popular that travel agents created personalized trips to India that featured visits to locations from the story.
During the remaining years of her life, Kaye edited several volumes of poetry by Rudyard Kipling and wrote her autobiography, which was published in three volumes.

12 Responses to M.M. Kaye

  1. Sherie

    I had not head of Ms. Kaye’s death but decided towards the end of Jan. to re-read The Far Pavillons. It’s been a favorite for many years and I’ve read it many times over the years. I had some co-workers taking a business trip to India and decided to “share” their experience by going back to a favorite book. I’ve read many of the Death… series too and enjoyed them.
    I look forward to getting her autobiography – her life sounds fascinating!

  2. soni lalwani

    i have just returned from the west end of london after seeing the far pavillions on stage at the shaftesbury theatre and the story reminded me that i had read the boojk many years ago!!
    what a fabulose historical romantic story – and on stage also – mm kaye – i will read all of your novels from now on – u r an inspiration

  3. Caroline Davis

    Ms Kaye’s book “The Ordinary Princess” has been my favorite ever since I read it for the first time many years ago. only recently did i decide to write to Ms. Kaye and congradulate her on an awesome achivement in the book. (what a gifted artist she was too!) and i was very sad to hear of her death.
    i look forward to reading many of her other books. if you haven’t read “the ordinary princess”, you are missing out on something wonderful!

  4. Saurabh Baheti

    “The Far Pavillions” was the only book of M.M.Kaye that i read but that was the best book i’ve ever read. It was so hearttouching that sometimes it made
    me cry. I wanted to thank her for writing such a wonderful book but i just got late. May she rest in peace.

  5. Pat Stoye

    I read Far Pavilions in ’78 and just finished reading it again, many parts over and over–how sorry I am to be too late to tell the author how much it moved me–and it did–right to the alas and old history texts–have been studying the old and newer maps, reading about the history of British in India–and Afganistan–how alive she has made the places and people of that time–and seems many or them still hold on to their basic beliefs and roots–a while back read The Kite Flyer–and Time magazines article on India–Hope the musical Far Pavilions musical comes to New York–and thanks for a place for me to say a belated thank you to MM Kaye

  6. Debbie Robson

    I never read the Far Pavilions but remember what a succes it was. I am just finishing Death in Berlin and loving it. Will definitely chase up her other books. Would also like to read her autobiographies.

  7. Mercedes de Marchena

    I did not hear of Ms. Kaye’s death until recently and was very saddened. I have read her books over and over and find her a master storyteller. I love everything Indian, and find that mysterious land fascinating, so her books have kept me enthralled for years. Her authobiography is a most read. Her death is a great loss to the written word, there are so few that practice the art as she did.

  8. geraldine granada

    the far pavillions is my favorite book in its genre. i’d love to read more books by her, but it’s not exactly available here – i’m lucky my mom was able to get one during the 80’s.
    i hope other people my age to be able to apprecieate a masterpiece such as this – there aren’t that many books of this quality anymore.

  9. J. Little

    What a wonderful story. I have been reading this book aloud to my wife for the past month ( Did the same for “Tradewinds”, “Death in Kenya”, and “Death in Zanzibar”). M. M. Kaye’s insight to the peoples of those regions, their religious and cultural beliefs, and their history of violent rejection of outsider interference in the running of their countries is very apropos to what’s been happening in our world today. Apparently her books and others, such as the “Desert Queen” by J. Wallach, were not on the “Foggy Bottom” must-read list.

  10. J. Little

    Re. My comments on 3/29/08. In error, I referred to Ms Kaye’s book “Trade Wind” as being titled “Tradewinds.” Oh well!

  11. Dolores Metrogen

    I am in the middle of the third book in MM Kaye’s autobiography trio entitled “Enchanted Evening”. The first two are “The Sun in the Morning” and “Golden Afternoon”. It is readily apparent where M. M. Kaye got her inspiration for her absolutely wonderful novels. I have read everything that she had written and do wish there was more. I wonder came of Bets, her sister, and am googling to see if there is information on her beloved father, Sir Cecil Kaye.

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