British author Tom Sharpe dies aged 85

Thu Jun 6, 2013 7:25am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - British comic novelist Tom Sharpe, known for his "Wilt" series about a harassed and hen-pecked university lecturer, has died aged 85, his publisher said on Thursday.

The London-born author, whose last and 16th novel "The Wilt Inheritance" was published in 2010, died in Spain where he had a home in the northeastern coastal town of Llafranc.

"Tom Sharpe was one of our greatest satirists and a brilliant writer: witty, often outrageous, always acutely funny about the absurdities of life," Susan Sandon, Sharpe's editor at Random House, said in a statement.

Sharpe, the son of a preacher from the northeastern English county of Northumberland, was educated at Cambridge University's Pembroke College and spent his national service during World War Two in the Royal Marines.

He told Reuters at a writing festival in 2010 that he did not set out to be a comic writer but wanted his first novel to attack the apartheid regime in South Africa, where he lived for 10 years before being expelled for sedition in 1961.

In South Africa he did social work before teaching in Natal.

"It just happened. Before that I'd been reading Thomas Mann, and Sartre, and Kafka and Kirkegaard," he said.

The result was his first novel in 1971, "Riotous Assembly," which lampoons South Africa's apartheid system and the police followed by a 1973 sequel, "Indecent Exposure".   Continued...