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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
Nobel winner: 'I helped educate India'
VS Naipaul
Naipaul was honoured with the Nobel prize
Nobel Prize winner VS Naipaul has said in a speech to literature lovers that he helped change attitudes in India.

The 69-year-old writer, who won the award on Thursday, was speaking at the opening of Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Trinidad-born Naipaul said: "The trouble with people like me writing about societies where there is no intellectual life is that if you write about it, people are angry.

"If they read the book, which in most cases they don't, they want approval. Now India has improved, the books have been accepted.

Beryl Bainbridge i
Beryl Bainbridge is a regular of the literary festival circuit
"Forty years ago in India people were living in ritual. This is one of the things I have helped India with."

More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the 10-day festival, which has attracted hundreds of authors, including Irvine Welsh, Melvyn Bragg and Beryl Bainbridge. The bi-annual festival is now in its 52nd year and has become a fixture of the literary calendar.

Organisers have sold almost 40,000 tickets to workshops and talks with thousands more expected to buy tickets in the coming days.

'Extraordinary lives'

The festival began in 1949 when Gloucestershire writer John Moore organised a gathering of writers to celebrate the written word in Cheltenham.

"This year the festival examines the ebb and flow of power in all its forms from the power of writing to change lives to the extraordinary lives which have changed history," said festival director Sarah Smyth.

"At the heart remains the love of literature and the art of the book."

Also invited is the former head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington, who was the first woman at the helm of the intelligence service.

She is set to discuss her controversial autobiography, Open Secret.

Louis de Bernières, Fay Weldon and Ruth Rendell are also putting in an appearance.

Television celebrities such as Alexei Sayle and Nigel Planer who have started writing careers, as well as journalists, including John Humphrys, John Pilger and Kate Adie, are invited.

Minister of State for the Arts Tessa Blackstone will also be speaking at the festival on 19 October.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | Arts
Naipaul: A singular talent
12 Oct 01 | Arts
Praise for Naipaul's Nobel
24 May 01 | Arts
Hay Festival set for Bill
30 May 01 | Wales
McCartney at Hay Festival
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