About M M Kaye

(Press Release from Penguin Books, 1980)

Mary Margaret Kaye’s two bestselling novels, THE FAR PAVILIONS and SHADOW OF THE MOON have established her as one of the great historical novelists of our time.  Not since Kipling has there been an author who combines such a profound understanding of India and its people with a storytelling gift of such rich imagination and narrative skill.

M M Kaye comes from a long line of soldiers and statesmen whose service under the Raj goes back to the early years of the last century, when India was still a land of native principalities and kingdoms ruled by maharajas and administered by British officials.  Her grandfather, William Kaye of the Bengal Civil Service, was among the last to attend Addiscombe, the East India Company’s college.  One of his cousins, Sir John Kaye, was Political Secretary of the India Office and the author of a classic six-volume history of the Indian Mutiny; another cousin, Edward Kaye, commanded a battery at the famous Siege of Delhi and was later made a Lieutenant General.  Her father, Sir Cecil Kaye, served in the Indian Army and became Director of Central Intelligence; and her brother William - the last Kaye to serve in the ‘India-of-the-Raj’ - carried  on the distinguished family tradition.

M M Kaye was born in Simla, the summer residence of the British viceroy and the city to which she returned every summer for the first ten years of her life.  The cool months were spent in Delhi, the capital of British India and once the seat of Akbar and the other Moslem sultans.  At the time, her father was President of the Council of an Indian state then known as Rajputana, and she often accompanied him on official visits to other parts of the country.  It was during one of these trips that an Indian first told her a story that had been handed down from one generation to the next - a story of a colourful and impressive royal wedding that was complicated by the efforts of the bride’s family to substitute another daughter at the last moment.  Many years after hearing this tale, when the Raj was a thing of the past and Rajputana  had reverted to its old name of Rajasthan, M M Kaye stumbled across the same story in a diary kept by a young English officer who had figured in the incident.  She remembered the version told to her long ago; and although she was busy working on another book at the time, she decided that here were the makings of the novel she had always wanted to write - and thus was THE FAR PAVILIONS born.

This remarkable woman has managed to reconcile the demands of being a full-time wife, mother and world traveller with a long and impressive literary career.  After her education in England she returned to India and married Goff Hamilton, an officer in Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides.  Her husband’s military assignments have taken her all over India as well as Egypt, Kenya, Germany, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  She has two daughters - Carolyn and Nicola and two grandchildren, James and Mollie.