Sir V.S. Naipaul: Biography & Novels

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

While definitely a product of it, Sir V.S. Naipaul made criticism of the British Empire one of his primary themes throughout much of his long career as a twentieth century writer.

Who was Sir V.S. Naipaul?

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul is among the most famous Caribbean writers of the twentieth century. With a knighthood to his name, Naipaul wrote more than 30 major works that examined a wide range of topics, from comedy to somber commentaries on the world around him. A Nobel Prize winner, Naipaul is himself a product of the British colonial system that a lot of his writing contends with.


Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. While his parents had originally immigrated from India to work as farmers, by the time Naipaul was born they had become part of the local elite. This meant that Naipaul was able to study at top schools while he was still a child. In his studies, he was exceedingly gifted and managed to get himself a scholarship to Oxford. There he would meet his wife, Patricia Ann Hale, and while he suffered from misdirection about what he should do in his life, he asked her to marry him and completed his studies.

For the years following his graduation and marriage, Naipaul worked a series of odd jobs to make ends meet. It wasn't until the late 1950s that his work began to really allow him to write full time. With the new income came new opportunities, and Naipaul and his wife traveled a lot, going all sorts of places. Much of this travel would serve as inspiration for his later works.

Major Works

Naipaul has published more than 30 major works in his lengthy career. Here are some of the most famous ones.

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