Christopher Hitchens, a British-born journalist and cultural critic, died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus.
Vanity Fair reported that Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010. This was after his memoir, Hitch-22 was published. Hitchens began chemotherapy soon after.
Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic, Hitchens wrote about a year ago in Vanity Fair.
My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends, Hitchens wrote in the June issue of Vanity Fair, which noted that Hitchens died in the presence of loved ones at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Hitchens work has been printed in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor, according to the magazine.
Though he was born in Britain, Hitchens made the U.S. his home. He was also a supporter of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to Reuters, which also noted that Hitchens kept his British citizenship when he became an American citizen in 2007.
Reuters also noted that Hitchens was a heavy smoker and drinker, who had to cut short a book tour for his memoir last year to undergo chemotherapy.
The news agency describes Hitchens as a journalist, war correspondent and literary critic, who carved out a reputation for barbed repartee, scathing critiques of public figures and a fierce intelligence.
Hitchens is the son of a British naval officer. He studied at Oxford University and was a literary critic for the New Statesman magazine in London. Hitchens then moved to New York to work as a journalist in 1981 before settling in Washington a year later. He was originally a correspondent for the left-wing magazine The Nation.
Hitchens authored 25 books including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and George Orwell.
In his last piece for Vanity Fair, titled Trial of the Will, Hitchens wrote about his fear of the disease taking away his ability to write:
I am typing this having just had an injection to try to reduce the pain in my arms, hands, and fingers. The chief side effect of this pain is numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my will to live would be hugely attenuated. I often grandly say that writing is not just my living and my livelihood but my very life, and it's true. Almost like the threatened loss of my voice, which is currently being alleviated by some temporary injections into my vocal folds, I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands and the loss of the transmission belts that connect me to writing and thinking.