Clive James, the Australian poet, critic and broadcaster admired around the world for his dry wit and bravery in the face of a long battle with leukaemia, has died at the age of 80.

James died 'surrounded by his family and his books' in Cambridge, his agent announced today, as friends paid tribute to a 'brilliantly kind and funny man' known for his wry commentary during his long career as a literary critic and TV columnist.

He was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010 and endured his "ever-multiplying illnesses with patience and good humour", it added.

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"Clive died almost 10 years after his first terminal diagnosis, and one month after he laid down his pen for the last time.

"He endured his ever-multiplying illnesses with patience and good humour, knowing until the last moment that he had experienced more than his fair share of this 'great, good world'."

Clive James pictured with actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1999. Photo / AP
Clive James pictured with actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1999. Photo / AP

In a parting reminder of his larrikin wit, James penned his own obituary and published it on his website, telling journalists it would be "cheaper than anything most newspapers are likely to have in the freezer".

"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," he wrote.

In a statement announcing his death, United Agents said: "Clive James, poet, critic and broadcaster, died at his home in Cambridge on Sunday 24th November 2019. A private funeral attended by family and close friends took place in the chapel at Pembroke College, Cambridge on Wednesday 27th November."

- with Daily Mail