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Bob Ellis dies of cancer

Bob Ellis

Legendary Australian author, journalist and playwright Bob Ellis has died from liver cancer.

Ellis started work as a political writer outraged by the Vietnam War, and went on to write speeches for political figures including Kim Beazley, Bob Carr, Bob Brown and former South Australian premier Mike Rann.

He also worked as a satirist and reviewer at the ABC, and went on to pen stage plays and films.

A provocative figure and as unashamedly left-wing as they came, Ellis had a somewhat fall from grace in 1998, when his book Goodbye Jerusalem was pulped because he defamed the Abbotts and the Costellos.

Ellis said it was the most stupid thing he ever did.

"It cost me the right to mass rallies and demonstrations, it cost the column on moral issues I had in the Sydney Morning Herald, it cost me status," he said.

Ellis' family has asked for privacy in a post published in his film and theatre blog, Table Talk.

"He died, as was his wish, at home. His family were by his bedside," the post read.

"If you have our phone numbers, please don't ring yet. There is too much going on. If you wish to make contact, please send an SMS or email for now."

Bill Shorten farewells 'wicked wit, true believer'

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was among those politicians paying tribute to Ellis on Twitter, bidding farewell to "a wicked wit, a true believer with every fibre of his being".

Mr Shorten said in a statement that Ellis, whose writing "moved people to tears", had "lived a remarkable Australian life".

"There was truly no such thing as a dispassionate Ellis piece. With Bob, it was always personal, it was always emotional, it was never dull," he said.

"He belonged to a generation of Australian genius whose irreverent disregard for convention helped sculpt an independent, confident sense of identity, free from the cultural cringe. He helped write, and tell, our national story.

"As a member of the vast, diverse, ever-expanding tribe of Ellis correspondents, I can say that I will miss much more than Bob's writing. I will miss his friendship, his counsel and his unshakeable faith in difficult times."


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