Screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born in Germany, emigrated to England, and earned a degree in English literature from London University. In 1951 she moved to India after marrying an Indian architect; there, they raised three daughters. Since 1955 she has written a dozen novels, many of them set in India, including The Nature of Passion, Esmond in India, Travelers and The Householder, the last of which was her first motion picture project with Merchant Ivory Productions. Her first collaboration with director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant on an original project was for Shakespeare Wallah, a film now widely regarded as a classic. She has also adapted such novels as Henry James' The Europeans and The Bostonians for the Merchant Ivory team, as well as writing original screenplays such as Roseland and Jefferson in Paris set in Europe and America.
In 1975, Jhabvala won Britain's Booker Prize for her novel Heat and Dust, and in 1984 she won a BAFTA award for Best Screenplay for the Merchant Ivory film adaptation of Heat and Dust. In 1986, she received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for A Room With a View and in 1990 she won the Best Screenplay Award from the New York Film Critics Circle for Mr.& Mrs. Bridge. Jhabvala received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Howards End and was nominated for an Oscar for her adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day.
A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Jhabvala has also had three short story collections published, in addition to nine novels. In 1984 she received a MacArthur Foundation Award and in 1994, she received the Writers Guild of America's Screen Laurel Award, which is the Guild's highest honor.