Clive James, Australian author, poet and broadcaster, dead at 80
Clive James, the prolific Australian-born writer, broadcaster and poet, whose sardonic works were celebrated by audiences in Britain and around the world, has died aged 80, his agents have said.
James had been battling illnesses including leukemia for a number of years.
United Agents said he died at his home in Cambridge, England on Sunday, adding that the author fought his medical issues “with patience and good humor.”
James started his career as a literary critic before rising to prominence through a series of popular British television programs.
His broadcasting work included the ITV show “Clive James on Television,” in which he highlighted humorous TV clips from around the world — most famously the Japanese game show “Endurance.”
James also fronted programs for the BBC, including a travel series and the documentary “Fame In The Twentieth Century.”
But he was perhaps most highly acclaimed for his writing, penning a vast catalog of poems, essays and memoirs throughout his colorful career.
James’ “Unreliable Memoirs” and subsequent autobiographies traced his life from boyhood and were celebrated for displaying his sardonic wit. He also published numerous poetry collections and four novels, while his translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy” was shortlisted for a Costa Award in 2013.
“If a poem or a lyric does not end up studded with turns of phrase that I had no idea were going to happen, I should not have begun it,” he explained in an introduction to one of his recent collections.
As James battled illness, he told the BBC he had started “saying goodbye” through his poetry. “I like to think that I hit a sort of plangent tone. A sort of last post, a recessional tone,” he said.
James was born in Sydney in 1939 and moved to England in 1961, first announcing himself on the literary scene with an anonymous article on the American writer Edmund Wilson. He served as The Observer newspaper’s television reviewer for a decade from 1972.
He continued to update his website in his final years, and even wrote his own obituary, telling journalists that “if they really, sincerely need to run a biographical note they should feel free to quote any or all of the following, preferably keeping in mind that shorter is better, and that a single line is best.”
“I will keep updating it until they carry me to the slab, during which journey I will try to give details of my final medication,” James added.