Ms Kane, who shocked the theatre establishment with her graphic handling of physical and emotional violence, is thought to have killed herself. She was reportedly found hanging at her flat on Friday. Last night, her family asked that no further details be released.
The playwright made a precocious debut while just 23 when the Royal Court in London staged her first play, Blasted, which divided critical opinion with its unrelenting depiction of sex and violence.
The play featured cannibalism and male and female rape, and in one scene a character is raped by a soldier before having his eyes gouged out and his tongue eaten. It was the kind of work that fuelled tabloid headlines and led to her earning the tag of being the new enfant terrible of the theatre.Her death is bound to spark debate over the value of her work, just four plays. Her other works, which critics felt were securing her reputation, were Phaedra's Love, Cleansed and Crave.
The Royal Court unleashed her work on the public believing that it had snapped up a major emerging writer that had a talent for today's dominant themes. Race, sexism and abuse all fell within her remit and her dark depiction of the human condition was as bleak as it was compelling for her audience. Several of her circle yesterday suggested that her subject matter preyed intensely on her sending her into bouts of depression that may have led to a suicide, although her close friend and agent Mel Kenyon said in The Guardian newspaper: "I don;'t think she was depressed. I think it was deeper than that. I think she felt something more like existential despair - which is what makes many artists tick.
Ms Kane's contemporaries paid tribute to her last night. Many were still coming to terms with the news.
Anne Mayer, the former head of public affairs at the Royal Court Theatre, who knew Sarah Kane, said last night: "She was a lovely person and extremely talented. I adored her and am very upset."
The theatre's artistic director, Ian Rickson, said: "Sarah was a profound human being and a true poet of the theatre. All of us at the Royal Court are so proud to have been closely associated with her bright, brilliant career."