Santha Rama Rau '45

Alumnae Achievement Awards 1971

Santha Rama Rau '45

Santha Rama Rau, born in Madras, India, was a writer, known for her works about the conflict between Western culture and Indian tradition. Her father, Sir Benegal Rama Rau, was a diplomat and, later, an Indian ambassador to Japan and the United States. The travel required for her father’s work, her time at Wellesley College, and her early schooling in England allowed Santha to become knowledgeable about customs and education in the Western world.

Her first book, Home to India, started out as an assignment for her senior year English composition class and was published by Harpers a year after her graduation from Wellesley. The novel describes her rediscovery of India and its customs after being raised and educated in Western society. Santha later published eight other books, including East of Home, Gifts of Passage and The Adventuress, a dramatized play of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and she wrote for numerous magazines, such as the New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine.

Her achievements earned her high accolades, including an honorary degree from Bates College in 1960; the Annual Book Award from the Secondary Education Board in 1960; the Asia Society Award; the Leadership for Freedom Award from Roosevelt University in 1962; and the Special Book Collection Award from Brandeis University in 1962.

In 1977, Santha Rama Rau married Gurdon Wallace Wattles, Jr., an American international lawyer for the United Nations. They held two ceremonies to celebrate both the Christian and the Hindu traditions. Santha had a son, Jai Peter Bowers, from her first marriage.

Santha continued her freelance writing and served as an honorary board member for Planned Parenthood in New York, a cause her mother also worked hard to promote. She died in April 2009 at the age of 86.


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