A SENIOR Cabinet minister has risked the ire of millions of teenagers – and grown-ups – by attacking the vampire novel series Twilight.

Aberdeen-born Michael Gove used a speech on education to suggest young people should read Middlemarch, George Eliot's classic tale of provincial life, instead.

Railing against a culture he said had low aspirations for the future of too many children, he also appeared to take a swipe at John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men as he called for young people to read more novels written before the 20th century.

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Reading charities criticised Mr Gove's comments accusing the minister of "still living in the Victorian era".

In his speech, Mr Gove said Twilight author Stephenie Meyer "cannot hold a flaming pitch torch to George Eliot. There is a great tradition of English literature – a canon of transcendent works – and (Twilight novel) Breaking Dawn is not part of it."

And he appeared to criticise the use of too many 20th-century texts in English schools, singling out Of Mice and Men and the novel which helped William Golding win the Nobel Prize for literature Lord of the Flies.

However, he also went on to praise schools where children were expected to read authors who include not only Dickens and Shakespeare but also Neil Gaimen, the cult fantasy writer, and Phillip Pullman, who wrote the Northern Lights series.

But Marc Lambert, chief executive of reading charity the Scottish Book Trust, said Mr Gove was "out of touch".

"It appears Michael Gove was born in the 1880s and is still living in the Victorian era," he said.

"Here's a man clearly in favour of ignoring the vast corpus of evidence that informs modern reading and educational practice, in favour of making education and even reading an ideologically driven issue."