Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth (born 20 June 1952 in Kolkatta, India) is a writes novels, poetry, children’s literature, travel writing and biography/memoir. He has widely traveled and lived in Britain, US, India and China.

Education & Career


Vikram Seth had his schooling at St Michael's High School in Patna, Welham Boys' School and The Doon School in Dehradun. He later went to Tonbridge School in Kent, England and then did Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Corpus Christi College at Oxford. He completed his doctorate from Stanford University. Along with this, he did his poetic studies as Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing (1977-1978). While at Stanford, he also studied Mandarin language.


He did his field work in China on population planning during 1980-82 attached to Nanjing University. He translated Hindi and Chinese poetry into English. He returned to Delhi via Xinjiang and Tibet which led to a travel narative From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983) which won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse (1986) was his first novel describing the experiences of a group of friends who live in California. A Suitable Boy (1993), an epic of Indian life got him the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book), the story of Lata, a young girl searching for a husband set in the early 1950s.

Arion and the Dolphin: A Libretto (1994) was performed in June 1994 at the English National Opera with music by Alec Roth. His poetry includes The Humble Administrator's Garden (1985) that won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) besides Mappings (1980), and All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems (1990). His Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992) is children's book consisting of ten stories in verse about animals.

Important Works

The important writings of Vikram Seth include The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse, A Suitable Boy, The Humble Administrator's Garden, From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet and four volumes of poetry titled Mappings, All You Who Sleep Tonight and Beastly Tales From Here And There. Three Chinese Poets is a translation of some Chinese poems into English.

His non-fictional writings include Two Lives Time Warner (2005); An Equal Music Phoenix House (1999); Arion and the Dolphin: A Libretto Phoenix House (1994); A Suitable Boy Phoenix House (1993); Three Chinese Poets: Translations of Poems by Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu Faber and Faber (1992); Beastly Tales from Here and There (illustrated by Ravi Shankar, re-issued Phoenix House 2002) Phoenix House (1992); All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems Faber and Faber (1990); The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse Faber and Faber (1986); The Humble Administrator's Garden Carcanet (1985); From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet Chatto & Windus (1983); and Mappings Writer's Workshop (Calcutta) (re-issued Viking 1994) (1980).

Awards/Achievements


Vikram Seth won several awards including Padma Shri award (2007); Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (2005); EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) for Best Book/Novel An Equal Music(2001); WH Smith Literary Award A Suitable Boy(1994); Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) A Suitable Boy (1994); Irish Times International Fiction Prize (shortlist) A Suitable Boy(1993); Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) The Humble Administrator's Garden(1985); and Thomas Cook Travel Book Award From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983).

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> Vikram Seth
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