Author Leslie Thomas, whose novel The Virgin Soldiers was adapted into a movie starring David Bowie, has died aged 83.

The writer passed away at his home in Wiltshire, England on Tuesday (06May14) after a long illness.

His wife, Diana, says, "He had a wonderful life and he travelled the world. All he ever wanted to do was write and that is what he did. He died at home with his family around him."

Thomas started his career as a journalist before focusing on writing books. Inspired by his time in National Service with the British Army, Leslie penned The Virgin Soldiers, about young British troops in Singapore.

A film adaptation in 1969 starred Lynn Redgrave and featured a cameo from a young Bowie. The writer went on to pen more than 30 novels, his last being 2007's Soldiers and Lovers.

Thomas was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Obe) medal in 2004.