He is regarded as one of the most sublime novelists of the age and has won both the Booker and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
But in private, Sir Vidia Naipaul, 75, better known as VS Naipaul, tormented his first wife for four decades, visited prostitutes and kept a mistress for 24 years before he suddenly abandoned her to marry yet another woman.
Sir Vidia's shocking treatment of those closest to him is laid bare in a new biography that suggests he is emotionally immature, selfish and self-pitying. It also contains the author's own admission that his mental cruelty towards his wife may have killed her.
The disclosures, in the biography by Patrick French and serialised in The Daily Telegraph from tomorrow, are likely to do further harm to a novelist who already has a reputation for arrogance and rudeness that has lost him many friends in the literary world.