Ragtime Author EL Doctorow Dies Aged 84

Ragtime Author EL Doctorow Dies Aged 84

Ragtime and Billy Bathgate author EL Doctorow has died from complications of lung cancer at the age of 84.

The writer's son, Richard Doctorow, confirmed his death at a New York hospital.

Doctorow reimagined the American past and placed fictional characters in historical context spanning 150 years of American history.

He was best known for his panoramic 1975 novel Ragtime, which was later made into a film starring James Cagney and a Broadway musical.

Billy Bathgate was made into a 1991 film starring Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman and Bruce Willis.

As well as his 12 novels, he also published two books of short stories, a play called Drinks Before Dinner and several essays and articles.

President Barack Obama praised Doctorow as "one of America's greatest novelists" on his Twitter page.

He added: "His books taught me much, and he will be missed."

Kate Medina, his editor at Random House, said in a statement: "Through books of great beauty and power, and characters I'll never forget, he showed us America's great flaws and its astonishing promise, and our own."

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in New York in 1931 and named after American writer Edgar Allen Poe.

He was awarded the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Awards and two PEN Faulkner Awards.

He also spent two years in the US Army, serving in Germany in 1954.

Doctorow is survived by his wife, son, two daughters and four grandchildren.