One of the true greats of modern novel and essay writing, Gore Vidal, has sadly passed away in his home in Los Angeles, aged 86. Vidal was a throwback to the some of the great writing duellers of the early 20th century, a man who relished the chance to argue with his contemporaries through prose, building up great rivalries including, famously, a long running feud with fellow US writer Truman Capote, whom he never missed a chance to snipe at.

He also was disparaging about Ernest Hemingway, viewing him as a joke, and enjoyed a long running battle with author and essayist Norman Mailer, whom he once likened to killer Charles Manson. The height of the latter's battles saw Mailer head-butt Vidal before a television appearance. Another rivalry developed with conservative political commentator William F. Buckley Jr; on national television in 1968, with the pair both commentating on the US Democratic National Convention, Vidal called Buckley a "pro-crypto-nazi".

Vidal's legacy though will be found most strongly within his words, which includes a series of historical novels, including 'Burr', '1876', 'Lincoln' and 'The Golden Age', as well as the at the time shocking transsexual comedy 'Myra Breckinridge', to name a few. In the USA he was respected hugely as an essayist, where he constantly dug beneath the powers of the USA and exposed their weaknesses. Never afraid to take a stand in what he believed in, Vidal was one of the last true political commentators to stand resolutely by his views.