Novelist Tom Sharpe dies aged 85
THE novelist Tom Sharpe, known for his satirical farces such as Blott On The Landscape and the Wilt series, has died at the age of 85, it has been reported.
The writer, whose works had been adapted for TV, had major success with 16 books, although there were some lengthy gaps between them due to health problems.
He had been living in northern Spain for two decades, partly because he preferred the healthcare system. Spanish newspaper El Pais said today that he had died at his home in Llafranc in Catalonia, due to complications from diabetes.
Sharpe won huge acclaim for his books with The Times calling him "the funniest novelist writing today", although he did not publish his first, Riotous Assembly, until he was 43 in 1971.
Within a few years he had published his best known works Porterhouse Blue, Wilt and Blott On The Landscape.
Despite moving from Cambridge to Spain in the early 1990s, he had little interest in learning Spanish and kept a circle of English-speaking friends.
"I don't want to learn the language. I don't want to hear what the price of meat is," he said in an interview with an ex-pat journal. And he spoke of how he was disenchanted with the UK: "It is so depressing. I can't bear it. There is no such thing as the English gentleman any more. Money rules everything."
After studying at Lancing College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, he served in the Marines before moving to South Africa in his early 20s, working as a social worker and teacher and he also had his own photographic studio.
However after ten years, in 1961, he was deported for criticising the apartheid regime and he returned to the UK to lecture 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."
El Pais said Sharpe's funeral is due to take place this weekend and claimed his ashes would be scattered at his Spanish home, as well as in Cambridge and Sunderland.
He was a local celebrity in his adopted Spanish home and his books are popular in the country.
A spokesman for Palafrugell City Council said: "We are saddened by the death of Tom Sharpe.
"He came here years ago and he just stayed but used to leave the town in summer because he said there were too many people around."
The spokesman said he was unsure of the cause of death but said Sharpe had been in "delicate health for some time".