Vikram Seth Biography


Birthday: June 20, 1952 (Gemini)

Born In: Kolkata

Vikram Seth is an Indian novelist, poet, and travel writer, best known for his epic novel ‘A Suitably Boy’. He has been in the field of writing for more than three decades and is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the modern era. Vikram Seth was born in Kolkata, India and studied at some of the best schools in the country before going to England for higher studies. He graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford and did his master's in economics from Stanford University, U.S.A. before embarking on a literary career. His first book, a collection of poems, titled ‘Mappings’ did not get much attention but he came into attention with his second book ‘From Heaven Lake’ which chronicled his journey from China to India. The novel ‘The Golden Gate’ published in 1986 made him one of the most highly acclaimed novelists of his time and the book won him plenty of accolade from readers as well as critics. However, it was his novel ‘A Suitable Boy’ that really catapulted him into the league of the most well known novelists of his time and remains his most famous work. The novel is one of the longest novels written in the English language and is regarded as a modern classic due to the range of topics that it touched upon.
Quick Facts

Indian Celebrities Born In June

Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Males


father: Prem Seth

mother: Leila Seth

siblings: Aradhana Seth, Shantum

Gays Poets

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Males

City: Kolkata, India

More Facts

education: Tonbridge School, Stanford University, Nanjing University, The Doon School, Stanford University, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, St. Xavier's High School, Patna

  • 1

    What is Vikram Seth's most famous novel?

    Vikram Seth's most famous novel is "A Suitable Boy."
  • 2

    What genre does Vikram Seth primarily write in?

    Vikram Seth primarily writes fiction, with a focus on novels and poetry.
  • 3

    Where was Vikram Seth born and raised?

    Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta, India, and raised in various cities across India.
Childhood & Early Life
Vikram Seth was born to Prem Seth and his wife Leila Seth, on 20 June 1952, in Calcutta (now renamed Kolkata) located in the state of West Bengal in India. His father was an executive with Bata shoe company, while his mother was a judge. He was the eldest among his parents’ three children.
He studied at the St. Michael’s School, Patna, St. Xavier’s School, Patna and subsequently at The Doon School, Dehra Dun. Thereafter, he moved to England and completed his A-Levels from the Tonbridge School.
After graduating from high school, he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and graduated with a B. A. Degree in 1975. From 1975 to 1986, he pursued his Ph.D. at Stanford University, California, U.S.A.
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During his time at Stanford University in the United States, he had been a Wallace Stegner Fellow in the field of creative writing and it was at this point that he penned the poems that were published in his first published work, ‘Mappings’, in 1980. The book did not get kind reviews from critics.
From 1980 to 1982, he was in China to his field research. He traveled extensively across China gathering material for a doctoral dissertation that he never wrote.. While in China, he studied classical Chinese poetry and language at Nanjing University.In 1983, his second book, 'From Heaven Lake', was published. It gave an account of his hitchhiking journey from China to India. The book was critically acclaimed and his work got noticed.In 1985, he came out with another collection of his poems, titled, ‘The Humble Administrator’s Garden’.
In 1986, his novel ‘The Golden Gate’ was published which was unique since the entire novel was written in verse and dealt with the lives of people in Silicon Valley. The novel was inspired by Aleksandr Pushkin’s work Eugene Onegin. The novel was successful and brought him plenty of accolades from the literary press.
In 1990, he published another book of poetry titled ‘All You Who Sleep Tonight’ and, in 1992, he came out with another collection of poems ‘Three Chinese Poets’.
In 1992, Seth wrote a children’s book titled ‘Beastly Tales from Hera and There’ in which he penned ten stories, all of which were about animals.
In 1993, he produced his most famous work in the form of the epic novel ‘A Suitable Boy’; the story deals with the complex familial structures in post-independence India. The book contains 1349 pages and is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language.
He continued to write poems and came up with another collection ‘The Frog and the Nightingale’ in 1994.
In 1999, his novel ‘Equal Music’ was published. The story revolves around Michael, a professional violinist, and his love, Julia, a pianist. The novel was well received by musical fans, and was appreciated for the accuracy of Vikram Seth's descriptions of music.
In 2005, he came out with his second non-fiction work, 'Two Lives'. It is the story of his great uncle, Shanti Behari Seth, and of his German Jewish great aunt, Hennerle Gerda Caro.
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He is currently working on the sequel to ‘A Suitable Boy’ titled ‘A Suitable Girl’ which could be released in 2016.
Major Works
His novel ‘A Suitable Boy’ is without doubt his most important work in his career as a writer. It is one of the longest novels ever written in the English language and deals with the national political issues in the period leading up to the first post-Independence national election of India in 1952.
Awards & Achievements
In 1985, he won the Sahitya Akademi Award, an Indian literary honour, for his book ‘The Golden Gate’.
In 2001, he was made an Order of the British Empire.
In 2007, he was bestowed with ‘Padma Shri’—India’s fourth highest civilian honour.
Personal Life & Legacy
Vikram Seth is openly gay and was in a long term relationship with French musician/violinist Philippe Honore.
Facts About Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth is a polyglot who is fluent in several languages, including English, Hindi, Urdu, and Mandarin.
He is known for his love of travel and has lived in various countries around the world, including China, England, and the United States.
In addition to being a talented writer, Vikram Seth is also a trained musician and has composed music for some of his own works.
He is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights and has spoken publicly about the importance of inclusivity and acceptance.
Despite his fame and success as a writer, Vikram Seth is known for his humility and approachability, often engaging with fans and aspiring writers in a genuine and encouraging manner.

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