Christopher Hitchens Dies Aged 62

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 16/12/11 06:10 Updated: 16/12/11 12:42

Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62 after losing his battle with cancer.

The author and journalist died in the presence of friends at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, in the United States, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

Hitchens was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2010, soon after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22.

The British born writer worked for the New Statesman before moving to the United States to work for, among other publications, The Atlantic Slate , The New York Times Book Review and Vanity Fair.

He began his political life on the far left but surprised and upset many by his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In a tribute published this morning, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said Hitchens was a "movie star" of a writer.

"You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who could match the volume of exquisitely crafted columns, essays, articles, and books he produced over the past four decades," he said.

"Walking with him down the street in New York or through an airplane terminal was like escorting a movie star through the throngs.

He added: "To his friends, Christopher will be remembered for his elevated but inclusive humor and for a staggering, almost punishing memory that held up under the most liquid of late-night conditions. And to all of us, his readers, Christopher Hitchens will be remembered for the millions of words he left behind. They are his legacy. And, God love him, it was his will."

Hitchens, the author of God Is Not Great, was an outspoken atheist who once described God as a "celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea".

Fellow author Ian McEwan told the BBC Today programme this morning that Hitchens was writing up until his last moments. "He insisted on a desk by his window, away from his bed in the ICU...there he was, a man with only a few days to live, turning out a 3,000 words to meet a deadline," he said.

"He was dozing off between sentences, the morphine would overwhelming him, then he woujld jerk himself awake and get down another sentence, he would never give up."

Labor MP Denis MacShane, a friend of Hitchens, "loved words" and could drink a bottle of whisky "and then be up in the morning writing 1,000 perfect words".

"He could throw words up in the sky and they fell down in a marvelous pattern," he added.

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