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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Friday, 16 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens 'swam against every tide'

Atheist author and journalist Christopher Hitchens has died aged 62 after a battle with cancer.

His friends Labour MP Denis McShane told the Today programme that Hitchens was a cross between Voltaire and George Orwell.

"Follow him, read him," he urged. "Be brave, say what you believe... dare to stand alone."

Author Ian McEwan described how, even in his final days, he was wedded to writing.

"Right at the very end, when he was at his most feeble as this cancer began to overwhelm him, he insisted on a desk by the window - away from his bed in the ICU," he said.

"Took myself and his son to get him into that chair - with a pole and eight lines going into his body - and there he was, a man with only a few days to live, turning out a three thousand words to meet a deadline."


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