Paul Scott Biography

Paul Mark Scott (25 March 1920 in Southgate - 1 March 1978 in London) was a British novelist, playwright, and poet, best known for his monumental tetralogy the Raj Quartet. His novel Staying On won the Booker Prize for 1977.

Paul Scott was born in Southgate, Middlesex, the younger of two sons. His father, Thomas (1870–1958), was a Yorkshireman who moved to London in the 1920s and was a commercial artist specialising in furs and lingerie. His mother, Frances, née Mark (1886–1969) was the daughter of a labourer from south London, socially inferior to her husband but with 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 Winchmore Hill Collegiate School (a private school) but was forced to leave suddenly, and without any qualifications, when aged 14, as his father’s business was in severe financial difficulties. He worked as an accounts clerk for C. T. Payne and took evening classes in bookkeeping, 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 had an instinctive familiarity with the interactions of caste and class in an imperial colony.