Playwright Alan Bennett has suggested that he is more impressed with contemporary US literature than its English counterpart, saying that home-grown writers have little to tell him.

The prolific writer, 79, also said that writing had become more difficult with age.

In an extract from his BBC4 interview with outgoing National Theatre boss Sir Nicholas Hytner, published in the Radio Times, The History Boys writer said: "I'm very ill-read. I know that sounds overmodest but it's quite true.

Loading article content

"I like American literature more than I do contemporary English literature. I like Philip Roth, for instance."

He added: "I don't feel any of the people writing in England can tell me very much. That may be unfair."

Bennett, who turns 80 later this month, said that writing had become tougher with age and that the output he had already produced did not give him any comfort.

"I find it harder and harder to write but then I always have found it hard to write. I never really believe in writer's block; all writing is writer's block.

"Looking back on your life, the things you remember are the things that you didn't do. A lot of that will be to do with sex, I suppose.

"It's in my nature to feel somehow that one has missed out. It's my view of my own life except that I've been very, very lucky. I met my partner (Bennett is in a civil partnership with journalist Rupert Thomas) quite late in life and so the last part of my life is much happier than the first part."