Author and contrarian Christopher Hitchens dies at age 62
Friday, December 16, 2011
British-born author, journalist and political commentator Christopher Hitchens has died yesterday aged 62 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, following a diagnosis of esophageal cancer in June 2010.
Hitchens was born in 1949 in Portsmouth. After graduating from Oxford with a third-class degree in politics, philosophy and economics in 1970, Hitchens wrote for the Times Higher Educational Supplement briefly, before moving on to the New Statesman where he met the novelist Martin Amis. After moving to the United States in 1981, he started writing for U.S.-based publications like Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and Slate.
In more recent years, Hitchens sided with George W. Bush in supporting the war in Iraq, and also went on to write a polemical book on religion, God Is Not Great, following a theme apparent in his earlier debunking efforts towards Mother Teresa—"a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud" according to Hitchens. The death of Jerry Falwell raised Hitchens' ire, stating that it is "a shame that there is no hell for Falwell to go to" and calling him a "faith-based fraud".
In his memoirs, Hitch-22, he wrote of a sexual encounter with two (unnamed) male members of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet. Hitchens was well-known for his drinking and smoking habits, consuming 50,000 cigarettes a year according to one report, and drinking enough every day "to stun the average mule" (according to Hitchens himself). The discovery of cancer last year was, according to Hitchens, "something so predictable and banal that it bores even me".
Salman Rushdie, whom Hitchens had supported against Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa, wrote on Twitter following Hitchens' death: "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops".
Hitchens was not close to his brother Peter Hitchens, a conservative columnist. He is survived by wife Carol Blue, daughter Antonia, and two children Alexander and Sophia from an earlier marriage.
- "Tony Blair debates religion with Christopher Hitchens in Canada" — Wikinews, November 30, 2010
- Richard Lea. "Christopher Hitchens dies aged 62" — The Guardian, December 16, 2011
- James Robertson. "Christopher Hitchens dead" — Sydney Morning Herald, December 16, 2011
- "Christopher Hitchens dies after battle with cancer" — BBC News, December 16, 2011
- Nicholas Shakespeare. "Christopher Hitchens: a noble contrarian" — Daily Telegraph, December 16, 2011
- Arthur MacMillan. "British writer Christopher Hitchens dead at 62" — AFP, December 16, 2011
- Juli Weiner. "In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011" — Vanity Fair, December 15, 2011
- Grayon Carter. "Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011: In Memoriam" — Vanity Fair, December 15, 2011
- Christopher Hitchens. "Faith-Based Fraud" — Slate, May 16, 2007
- Christopher Hitchens. "Mommie Dearest" — Slate, October 20, 2003