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Porterhouse Blue novelist Tom Sharpe dies

  • @James_Legge

Satirical novelist Tom Sharpe, best known for Porterhouse Blue, Blott On The Landscape and the Wilt series, has died aged 85.

The writer, who produced 16 books, several of which were adapted for TV,  served in the Marines as a young man and was deported from South Africa for speaking out against apartheid.

Born in London in 1928, Sharpe had been living in northern Spain for two decades, partly because he preferred the healthcare system.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that he died at his home in Llafranc in Catalonia from complications related to diabetes.

Sharpe won huge acclaim for his books with The Times calling him "the funniest novelist writing today." However, success came relatively late in life as he did not publish his debut Riotous Assembly until 1971, aged 43.

Within a few years he had published his best known works: Porterhouse Blue, Wilt and Blott On The Landscape.

He moved from Cambridge to Spain in the early 1990s, having spoken publicly of his disenchantment with the UK.

"It is so depressing. I can't bear it," he said. "There is no such thing as the English gentleman any more. Money rules everything."

After studying at Cambridge and a stint in the Marines, he moved to South Africa in his early 20s where he worked as a social worker, a teacher and ran his own photographic studio.

After his deportation in 1961 he lectured at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, a period which helped to inspire his character Wilt, who featured in five novels.

Susan Sandon, managing director of his publisher Cornerstone, said: "Tom Sharpe was one of our greatest satirists and a brilliant writer: witty, often outrageous, always acutely funny about the absurdities of life.

"The private Tom was warm, supportive and wholly engaging. I feel enormously privileged to have been his publisher."