Born in Germany, she moved to Britain with her family during the Nazi regime. After marrying an Indian architect in 1951 and moving to New Delhi, she began to write about her life there. She drew on her experiences for the novel “Heat and Dust” about a young woman living in India in the 1920s, which won the Booker Prize and was adapted for the 1983 Ivory film.
Prawer Jhabvala collaborated with Merchant and Ivory on films that were often literary adaptations, including “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” “The Remains of the Day,” “Quartet,” “The Golden Bowl” and “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries.”
Merchant first called her in 1961 to ask the novelist,