Skip to main content

'A great voice falls silent': Christopher Hitchens tributes pour in on Twitter

By Nick Thompson, CNN
updated 10:09 AM EST, Fri December 16, 2011
Writer Christopher Hitchens, pictured in 2004, has died from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 62.
Writer Christopher Hitchens, pictured in 2004, has died from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 62.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rushdie: "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops."
  • Fry: "You were envied, feared, adored, reviled and loved. Never ignored. Never bested. A great and marvellous man."
  • Dawkins: "Finest orator of our time, fellow horseman, valiant fighter against all tyrants including God."
  • Parsons: "Never saw anyone drunker in a green room. Never saw anyone sharper on air."

(CNN) -- "My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends," wrote Christopher Hitchens in June before his death Friday from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 62.

Now, friends and peers of the British-American author have eulogized Hitchens on Twitter.

The tributes were led by British novelist Salman Rushdie, who tweeted "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops."

Hitchens, an outspoken atheist and critic of religion, defended Rushdie when the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life in 1989 following the publication of "The Satanic Verses."

Richard Dawkins, a fellow atheist and author of "The God Delusion," tweeted: "Christopher Hitchens, finest orator of our time, fellow horseman, valiant fighter against all tyrants including God."

Author Hitchens talks cancer and God
Hitchens debates God's existence
Famed brothers debate the need for God

In 2010, Dawkins and Hitchens consulted lawyers in England to see whether charges of crimes of humanity could be brought against Pope Benedict XVI for what they perceived as his role in the coverup of child abuse in the Catholic church.

Blog: Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

American blogger and professor Jeff Jarvis tweeted: "If there is a God, I'm not sure who I'm more frightened for: Him or Hitch."

"Christopher Hitchens is probably saying all this RIP stuff is bulls---..something like "I'm not resting...I'm dead!", tweeted former CNN International Senior Editor David Clinch.

Despite his frequent polemical attacks on religion, Hitchens was friends with a number of prominent religious figures, including Rick Warren, founder of the evangelical Saddleback megachurch in California.

"My friend Christopher Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him constantly & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now," tweeted Warren.

Never ignored. Never bested. A great and marvellous man.
Fry on Christopher Hitchens

While Hitchens' often controversial views made him a fair number of enemies in both conservative and liberal circles, his writing prowess was universally admired.

American comedian and Saturday Night Live writer Seth Meyers tweeted: "I didn't always agree with him, but I loved the way he wrote".

In November, English actor Stephen Fry joined actor Sean Penn, writer Martin Amis and others at an event in London to celebrate Hitchens' life and work, with the writer watching from his bed in Texas.

On Friday, Fry tweeted: "Goodbye, Christopher Hitchens. You were envied, feared, adored, reviled and loved. Never ignored. Never bested. A great and marvellous man."

British journalist and author Tony Parsons added on Twitter: "Christopher Hitchens was a one-off, a trouble maker, one of the greatest writers alive and also a smoker. He deserved 30 more years of life."

And in a nod to Hitchens' reputation as a hard drinker, Parsons added: "Memory of Christopher Hitchens. 20 years ago - a live TV debate. Never saw anyone drunker in a green room. Never saw anyone sharper on air."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT