Playwright Alan Bennett has revealed his private fight against cancer, but dismissed the illness as a "bore".
Bennett is one of Britain's best-loved playwrights
In his autobiography Telling Stories - serialised in the Daily Telegraph - Bennett, 71, wrote that he had surgery and treatment for colon cancer in 1997.
Surgeons told the Talking Heads creator they removed a "rock-bun" sized tumour.
He said he kept it secret because he did not "want to die in the pages of a newspaper" and that he was cheerful but did not dare think he had been cured.
He said he was given a 50% of surviving the cancer, but was later told it had really been much less.
"I did not see cancer as a way of dramatising my life," Bennett wrote.
"Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore."
Bennett's rise to fame began in 1960 when he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival alongside Dudley Moore, Peter Cooke and Jonathan Miller.
They performed a satirical revue, called Beyond The Fringe, which Bennett also co-wrote.
Bennett went on to write many plays, forging a reputation as one of the UK's finest monologue writers.
Among his most memorable plays are The Lady in the Van, based on his real life experience of a woman who lived in a van in his street for 15 years, and The Madness of George III.
His return to the National Theatre in 2004 was viewed as a huge success, with The History Boys winning rave reviews and awards.