Rachel Ingalls, Rediscovered Author of ‘Mrs. Caliban,’ Dies at 78

Her friend Hugh Fleetwood, a British author and also also also painter, agreed in which Ms. Ingalls had been delighted by the literary world’s recent embrace. In remarks at her funeral on Friday in London, he said, “She seemed to be not merely happy, nevertheless — like Violetta inside final scene of her favorite opera, ‘La Traviata’ — reborn.”

Ms. Ingalls’ much-praised novel “Mrs. Caliban,” by 1982, tells of a romance between a lonely housewife and also also also a sea creature. Despite the similarity of its plot to in which of the 2017 movie “The Shape of Water,” Ms. Ingalls never raised an objection.

Over a half-century, Ms. Ingalls produced 11 books, most of them quite short, some of them collections of short stories. Her tales are often dark, ambiguous and also also also threatening, nevertheless not without humor. If not exactly feminist, they thrum with female empowerment. Characters are always on the verge of betrayal or doom; the aura can be fatalistic.

The housewife in “Mrs. Caliban” can be mourning a recent miscarriage as well as the deaths of her child and also also also her dog, and also also also everything around her seems in a state of grief. “Everything,” Ms. Ingalls wrote. “the item was a wonder the grass on the front lawn didn’t turn around and also also also sink back into the earth.”

Ms. Ingalls has said in which her biggest literary influence was “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” which she took to bed with her as a child.

“I stuck with the Brothers Grimm while my friends went on to the Bobbsey Twins and also also also Nancy Drew,” she told The Boston Globe in 1987 in a rare interview. “The next book in my life was ‘Bulfinch’s Mythology,’ ” which popularized the stories of Greek and also also also Roman mythology and also also also additional legends.

While she was absorbing heavy classics, and also also also reading all of Shakespeare, Ms. Ingalls was fixated on the radio. She loved listening to soap operas and also also also melodramas, and also also also often incorporated into her work both the entertainment elements of the soaps and also also also the menace of the Brothers Grimm. She also went to movies, the theater and also also also opera constantly, soaking up all manner of storytelling.

The renewed interest in “Mrs. Caliban” dovetailed with “The Shape of Water,” in which a lonely woman falls in love that has a sea creature. The movie won four Academy Awards, including for best picture.