Tributes pour in as author Christopher Hitchens loses year-long battle with cancer

Writer Christopher Hitchens said his life was bohemian and rackety. Picture: Getty

Writer Christopher Hitchens said his life was bohemian and rackety. Picture: Getty

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AUTHOR and journalist Christopher Hitchens has died after losing his battle with cancer.

The outspoken atheist had been undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year, but died aged 62 at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, last night.

Mr Hitchens published scores of books, thousands of articles and made countless television appearances.

He famously fell out with his brother Peter, also a journalist, though the pair were later reconciled.

Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, where Mr Hitchens was a contributing editor, paid tribute on the magazine’s website.

He wrote: “Christopher Hitchens was a wit, a charmer and a troublemaker, and to those who knew him well, he was a gift from, dare I say, God.

“He died today at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, in Houston, after a punishing battle with oesophageal cancer, the same disease that killed his father.” Mr Carter said Mr Hitchens would be remembered for his “elevated but inclusive humour” and 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.”

The English-American citizen, who is survived by his wife and three children, was born in Portsmouth, the son of a naval officer, and educated at private school and Oxford University.

His early career in journalism saw him write for left-wing weekly The New Statesman.

The publication of his 2007 book God Is Not Great made him a major celebrity in his adopted homeland of the US and he happily took on the role of the country’s best-known atheist.

He took on former prime minister Tony Blair in a televised debate last year, linking God to a “celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea”.

His memoir, Hitch-22, was published last year, the same year he was diagnosed with cancer, which he said was possibly brought on by his “bohemian and rackety life”.

Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie wrote on Twitter: “Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops.”