Acclaimed author, journalist and playwright Keith Waterhouse died "quietly in his sleep" yesterday, a family spokeswoman said last night.
Waterhouse, whose works include Billy Liar and Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, was at his home in London when he passed away. He was 80.
Waterhouse's spokeswoman said he had "not been very well" recently, but did not give the nature of his illness.
The revered writer came from humble beginnings, as a school boy in Leeds, and rose to see his name in lights.
After school he became a clerk in an undertaker's office, which provided inspiration for his books and play Billy Liar, the story of a day dreamer planning his escape from an undertaker,s job.
Following National Service in the Royal Air Force, Waterhouse achieved his ambition to be a reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post and landed his first Fleet Street job on the Daily Mirror in 1951.
He would also often draft articles and speeches for Labour Leaders Hugh Gaitskell and Harold Wilson.
A newspaper strike in 1956 gave him time to pen his first novel There Is A Happy Land, set
on a Leeds Estate.
He left 10,000 words of Billy Liar in a taxi and had to start again, but said losing the "pretentious twaddle" was the best thing to happen to him.
Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, said last night: "Keith was a genius, for whom the phrase 'Fleet Street legend' could have been invented. A consummate journalist, scintillating satirist and unrivalled chronicler of modern life and so much more".
Source: The Journal.