US author EL Doctorow passes away at 84

US author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate has passed away at 84 in New York

Critically acclaimed US Author EL Docotorow has passed away at 84
Critically acclaimed US Author EL Docotorow has passed away at 84

EL Doctorow, critically acclaimed author of the novels Ragtime and Billy Bathgate, has died aged 84 in a New York hospital, according to his son.

The New York Times reports Doctorow’s son saying his father died of complications from lung cancer.

Doctorow was known for works which re-imagine the American experience, placing fictional characters in recognisable historical contexts.

Born Edgar Lawrence Doctorow on 6 January 1931, he was named after the author Edgar Allen Poe, whom Doctorow described as "our greatest bad writer".

Doctorow published his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times, in 1960 following a short time as a script reader for movie studio Columbia Pictures. Many of Doctorow's novels including Ragtime and Billy Bathgate were turned into movies, with Ragtime also being made into a Broadway musical in 1998.

US President Barack Obama paid tribute to him saying he was "one of America's greatest novelists", and tweeting; "his books taught me much, and he will be missed.''

In a 50-year career, Doctorow published 10 novels, a stage drama, two books of short fiction and numerous essays.

Doctorow received critical praise throughout his career and he won the National Book Award for fiction in 1986 for World's Fair, the National Book Critics Circle award in 1989 for Billy Bathgate and again in 2005 for The March.

His body of work was recognised last year with the award of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.