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New libraries will deny children access to classics, fears Winterson

Libraries will fail the current generation of children by stocking DVDs and books such as The Da Vinci Code rather than literary classics, leading author Jeanette Winterson said yesterday.

The author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, speaking in Edinburgh at an event to celebrate the 25th birthday of the publication of her most famous book, said she is worried about future young readers, who, unlike her when she was growing up in Accrington, Lancashire, may not have access to literary classics such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

Winterson said that as a child her one escape from her oppressive home life was to go to her local library.

Yesterday she said she would “start at A and read Jane Austen and move to B and read the Brontes and go on from there”.

Winterson, 50, said she had been dismayed to visit her old library in Accrington to find it stocked with DVDs rather than books, and said that the less well off, less well-cared for children would not have the same experiences as she did.

She said she also feared for libraries under the “Cameron cuts” in Government expenditure and the future of literature as it changesin the digital age.

She spoke about the future of writing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival event.

She said: “What worries is that a load of s**** has been talked about digitisation as being the new Gutenbe rg [as in the first major book printed with moveable type press], but that fact is that the Gutenberg led to books being put in shelves, and digitisation is taking books off shelves.

“If you start taking books off shelves then you are only going to find what you are looking for, which does not help those who do not know what they are looking for.”

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