(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."
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.
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.
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."