S. M. Marath

Locations

Teddington
Middlesex, TW11 8ES
United Kingdom
51° 25' 37.2324" N, 0° 20' 14.37" W
Hampstead
London, NW3 6NR
United Kingdom
51° 33' 20.1924" N, 0° 11' 36.7116" W
Other names: 

Sankarankutty Menon Marath

Sam Menon Marath

1
Date of birth: 
29 Oct 1906
City of birth: 
Trichur, Cochin, Kerala
Country of birth: 
India
Date of death: 
02 Jan 2003
Location of death: 
London
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1934
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Y
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1934-2003

2
About: 

S. M. Marath was born into an orthodox Nayar background in Trichur, at one time the capital of Cochin State. His ancestral home was Sri Padmanabha Mandiram in Tirunvambadi, Trichur. He combined a traditional South Indian background with a cosmopolitan education, studying for his BA in English at Madras Christian College and later, in 1934, enrolling at King’s College London. He went on to join the Indian Civil Service in London, working at India House after Independence in 1947. He married Nancy, an Irish woman, had two sons and settled permanently in Britain.

A Wound of Spring, his first novel, appeared in 1960 and is dedicated to his family. Prior to this, between 1934 and 1960, he published short stories, critical essays and reviews, and broadcast regularly with the BBC Home, Education and Eastern Service. Whilst Marath regularly reviewed Indian works in British periodicals – by Mulk Raj Anand, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Aubrey Menen, Jawaharlal Nehru and M. K. Gandhi, among others – he also wrote commentaries on British writers, French literature and religious philosophy. His published works are all set in Kerala, South India, close to his ancestral home. Written in English and drawing on a wide range of sources, they explore broad existential questions. In Janu, his last published novel, he addresses specific issues related to the Indo-British encounter which indirectly draws on his experience as an Indian living in Britain. He died in London in 2003.

Connections: 

Mulk Raj Anand, H. N. Brailsford, Robert Herring, N. Roy Lewis, Aubrey Menen, Krishna Menon, George Orwell, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Raja Rao, Rolfe Arnold Scott-James.

Buddhist Society, Pimlico; Indian High Commission; King’s College London.

Involved in events: 

India League meetings

Independence celebrations at India House, London

3
Published works: 

The Wound of Spring (London: Dennis Dobson; Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1960)

The Sale of an Island (London: Dennis Dobson; Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1968)

Janu (1988)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Asia

The Hindu Illustrated Weekly

King’s College Review

Life and Letters Today

The London Mercury

The Listener

Times Literary Supplement

Reviews: 

Asia and Africa Review

The Auckland Star

The Bookseller

Cork Examiner

Glasgow Herald

Hindustan Standard

London Evening News

New Statesman

Swaziland Times

Times Literary Supplement

Secondary works: 

Elias, Mohamed, Menon Marath, Kerala Writers in English (Macmillan India, 1981)

Harrex, S. C., The Fire and the Offering: The English Language Novel of India (Calcutta: Indian Writers Workshop, 1977)

Mukherjee, M., The Twice-Born Fiction: Themes and Techniques of the Indian Novel in English (Delhi: Heinemann, 1971)

4
Example: 

Letter to Mohamed Elias, 23 October 1979, in Elias, Mohamed, Menon Marath (Macmillan India, 1981), p. 44

Content: 

Here Marath describes in a letter the impact of English on his life as a writer living in Britain.

Extract: 

Truth to say, English really has been my language always. The subtleties of English as a medium of communication captivated me right from the start. I never intended to write in any language but English. Perhaps I was one of those Indians who were mentally enslaved by our foreign rulers. I confess this with shame. The direct consequence of this was my coming to England. I think I had come here to be released from this enthralment.

Relevance: 

Like many other Indian writers in English of his generation, Marath was aware from the outset of the difficulties of translating his experience of Kerala into English and finding an appropriate form to articulate this.

Archive source: 

S. Menon Marath Papers, Add. 73500, British Library, St Pancras