The marriage of writers Salman Rushdie and Marianne Wiggins was reported to be shaky even before the Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced Rushdie to death for his alleged blasphemies in The Satanic Verses, and the enforced togetherness of six months in hiding could hardly have been expected to salvage it. The announcement, when it came on Aug. 25, was terse: “Marianne Wiggins has announced through her publishers, Seeker & Warburg, that she and her husband, Salman Rushdie, have been living separately for four weeks. Scotland Yard security arrangements for the protection of Mr. Rushdie have been reorganized since then, and Ms. Wiggins does not know where he is. Ms. Wiggins requests privacy. She is not prepared to discuss the matter further.”
Wiggins, 41, who was born in Lancaster, Pa., met Rushdie, 42, an Indian-born Muslim, in 1986. They were married in January 1988 and, though there were rumors of professional jealousies on both sides, they were apparently content long enough to dedicate books to each other during the past year. Wiggins’s novel John Dollar was inscribed “To my beloved Salman”; The Satanic Verses, simply “For Marianne.”
The couple’s lives turned to nightmare soon after Verses was published in Britain in September 1988. Muslims around the world protested, and Khomeini handed down Rushdie’s death sentence on Feb. 14. Rushdie and Wiggins went into hiding. John Dollar had just been published and, according to the London Daily Telegraph, Wiggins was “upset that she was unable to publicize her book personally because of the death threat.”
In an interview with the London Sunday Telegraph this summer, Wiggins spoke of the hardships of life on the run. She and Rushdie, she said, had slept in 56 different beds in four months. She also said, “I am married to him, and what I needed to do was to be with him and to make his life go forward.”
That interview appeared July 30. If the statement from her publisher is accurate, Marianne Wiggins and Salman Rushdie had already gone their separate ways.