V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932 and emigrated to England in 1950, when he won a scholarship to University College, Oxford. He is the author of many novels, including A House for Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, and In a Free State, which won the Booker Prize. He has also written several nonfiction works based on his travels, including India: A Million Mutinies Now and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples. He was knighted in 1990 and in 1993 was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize.
In this essay of literary autobiography, V. S. Naipaul sifts through memories of his childhood in Trinidad, his university days in England, and his earliest attempts at writing, seeking the experiences of life and reading that shaped his imagination and his growth as a writer.