Santha Rama Rau

Rau headshot
Santha Rama Rau (1923-2009) was the first widely-read female South Asian writer in the United States. Born in Madras, India, into an elite Indian family — her father, a high-ranking civil servant, became ambassador to Japan and the United States, and her mother was a founder of International Planned Parenthood —, she grew up in India, Great Britain, and South Africa and made the unusual choice of attending college in the United States rather than in England. She became Wellesley College’s first graduate from India. Between 1945 and 1970, she worked as a journalist for publications as varied as the New Yorker and the Reader’s Digest, writing mainly travel stories from Asia, Africa and the former Soviet Union. Many were collected as East of Home (1950), View to the Southeast (1957) and My Russian Journey (1959). Santha Rama Rau also wrote an autobiography, Gifts of Passage (1961), several novels, and adapted the E. M. Forster novel A Passage to India for Broadway and the London stage.

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