Paul Scott (novelist)

English novelist, playwright and poet 1920–1978

Paul Mark Scott (25 March 1920:– 1 March 1978) was an English novelist, playwright, and poet, best known for his tetralogy The Raj Quartet. His novel Staying On won the Booker Prize for 1977.


Early life

Paul Scott was born in Palmers Green, then in Middlesex, now in Southgate, London, growing up there as the younger of two sons. His father, Thomas (1870–1958), was a Yorkshireman who moved to London in the 1920s as a commercial artist specializing in furs and lingerie. His mother, Frances, née Mark (1886–1969), the daughter of a labourer from south London, had artistic and social ambitions. In later life Scott differentiated between his mother's creative drive and his father's down-to-earth practicality.

He was educated at the private Winchmore Hill Collegiate School, but was forced to leave suddenly at the age of 14, without any qualifications, when his father's business met financial difficulties. He worked as an accounts clerk for C. T. Payne and took evening classes in book-keeping, but started writing poetry in his spare time. It was in this environment that he came to understand the rigid social divisions of suburban London, so that when he went to British India, he felt an instinctive familiarity with the Indian caste system, when he compared it with the British class system.

Military service

Scott was conscripted into the British Army as a private early in 1940 and assigned to the Intelligence Corps. He met and married his wife Penny (born Nancy Edith Avery in 1914) in Torquay in 1941. She also became a novelist. They had two daughters, Carol (born 1947) and Sally (born 1948).

In 1943 Scott was posted as an officer cadet to India, where he was commissioned. He ended the war as a captain in the Indian Army Service Corps, helping to organize the logistic support for the Fourteenth Army's reconquest of Burma, which had fallen to the Japanese in 1942. He was initially appalled by the attitudes displayed by other Britons in India, by the heat and dust, by the disease and poverty and by the sheer numbers of people, but like many others he fell deeply in love with India.


After demobilisation in 1946, Scott was employed as an accountant for two small publishing houses, Falcon Press and Grey Walls Press, head... more

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