Sir Kingsley Amis, 73, one of the finest English writers of the 20th century, died in hospital yesterday morning. Last night tributes poured in for Amis, who burst on to the literary scene in 1954 with his celebrated first novel, Lucky Jim, and whose consistent and prolific output was still being recognised in 1986 when The Old Devils won the Booker Prize. He was knighted in 1990.
Melvyn Bragg, controller of arts at London Weekend Television, said Amis, whose son Martin has also won literary acclaim, had dominated literature for half a century.
Amis was perhaps as famous for his outspokenness, ferocious drinking, extreme right-wing views and misogyny as for 20 novels and six volumes of verse.
Malcolm Bradbury, academic and writer, who knew him for 30 years, said last night that his hard-drinking image was often an act designed to preserve his privacy. Prof Bradbury added that he was one of four great fiction writers in Britain in the late 20th century, alongside William Golding, Anthony Burgess, and Doris Lessing.
Auberon Waugh, novelist and journalist, said: "In Lucky Jim he absolutely captured the tone of the times in the way that Martin Amis has done for this generation." The journalist and playwright Keith Waterhouse said Sir Kingsley would be "badly missed" at London's Garrick Club. "He was a curmudgeon but we all knew it was an act.''
Born into a lower-middle- class family, Amis served in the Royal Signals during the war and after Oxford became a lecturer at Swansea, where his experiences formed the basis for Lucky Jim, published in 1954.
'Driven to write', page 3
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