Acclaimed author and activist SUSAN SONTAG has died in a Manhattan, New York, hospital, aged 71.

Her historical novel In America won the National Book Award in 2000 but Sontag was best known as an essayist.

Sontag made her name in the mid 1960s when her NOTES ON CAMP established her as a major new writer.

She also won acclaim for ILLNESS AS METAPHOR and ON PHOTOGRAPHY, which received a NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD in 1978.

She also became involved in politics and served as presidentof the American chapter of the writers organisation PEN in the late 1980s.

She also led protests in the literary community when British writer SALMAN RUSHDIE was issued a death threat from Iranian leader AYATOLLAH RUHOLLAH KHOMENI after writing THE SATANIC VERSES.

Sontag also campaigned for human rights and spent much of the 1990s travelling to the former Yugoslavia in a bid to make American politicians aware of the civil war there.

She also staged a production of WAITING FOR GODOT at the height of the conflict.

29/12/2004 01:16