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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 14:42 GMT
Author Welsh's 'debt' to Austen
Irvine Welsh
Irvine Welsh is famed for his gritty fiction
Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has revealed that Jane Austen's genteel fiction was a major influence on him.

Welsh, famed for his gritty stories about drugs, poverty and misogynistic characters, said he also owed much to Sir Walter Scott and George Eliot.

Welsh disclosed his admiration for 18th and 19th Century literature to Dr Aaron Kelly, who is publishing a book on him.

"This will surprise people but it shows that he didn't come out of nowhere," said the academic.

Dr Kelly, a lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at Edinburgh University, said Welsh told him: "They're still to me, the greatest books ever written by English novelists.

"If you can take it almost as a sort of canon, on the whole they've been such a powerful, devastating influence on literature, British literature, European literature."

Dr Kelly said the Scottish author's comfort in revealing the breadth of his literary influences reflected a growing maturity in his work.

"When he was a younger writer he wanted to be a loose cannon. But he is actually part of the literary canon."

Dr Kelly's research also found that Welsh once complained about members of a theatre audience in Edinburgh walking out during a performance.

One of the first publications by the author was a disgruntled letter to a newspaper following his visit to the Lyceum Theatre.

He wrote: "Their behaviour was unsettling to other members of the audience and an insult to the highly gifted actors on the stage."

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