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Tributes are paid to writer Tom Sharpe

Tributes are paid to writer Tom Sharpe

TRIBUTES have been paid to the veteran author Tom Sharpe who has passed away at the age of 85.

His darkly comic novels have been entertaining his millions of fans across the world since the early 1970s. Many people would find themselves bursting into uncontrolled laughter while reading his work. It was an effect that the author himself had experienced many times during the writing process. He once revealed in an interview that there were times when he would step into the garden and collapse in laughter at something he had written.

It is perhaps more surprising to learn that he had not set out to be a comic writer. He first book, Riotous Assembly (1971), was inspired by his abhorrence to apartheid in South Africa. Ten years before publishing the novel, Mr. Sharpe had been deported from the country for his anti-apartheid views. During his time in the country he had worked as a social worker, a teacher and a photographer. He had moved to South Africa following a spell in the Royal Marines after studying at Cambridge.

His mocking of the apartheid regime extended to his second book, Indecent Exposure (1973). With such characters as Constable Els — who at one point has an unforgettable encounter with a Doberman Pinscher — the books established his reputation as one of the great comic writers in Britain.

Many other great books were to follow over the years, including Porterhouse Blue (1974), Blot on the Landscape (1975) and Wilt (1976), which was to become the first in a much-loved series.

Some of his work, including Porterhouse Blue and Blot on the Landscape were adapted for television.

After Wilt On High was published in 1984, there followed a long period when no new works were produced. Around this period the Oxford-based writer had   apparently become annoyed about new developments spoiling the view from his writing room.

Just as fans were despairing that they would never see any new works, The Midden was published in 1996. It seems that long periods spent in north eastern Spain had helped him return to his typewriter.

His final book, The Wilt Inheritance, came out in 2010.

Mr. Sharpe passed away at his home in Llafranc in Spain.

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