Credit: Shutterstock/Kingsley Amis

If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing

Born in London and growing up in an ordinary working family, Kingsley Amis' brilliance earned him scholarships - first to private school, then Oxford University. His studies were interrupted by the Second World War, where he served with the Royal Signals. But in 1945 he returned and graduated with a first-class degree in English.

As a novelist, he became part of the movement known as the Angry Young Men, a group thought to have caught the zeitgeist of the 1950s. Despite this name, his style was to write comedic stories. His first, award-winning novel Lucky Jim sold a great many copies and has since been translated into twenty different languages.

He was also a poet and essayist, in addition to his more than 20 novels, and numerous short works of fiction. His popularity meant he was sometimes snubbed by the literary establishment.

As a professor, he visited Princeton and other American universities to lecture in creative writing. He was knighted in recognition of his contribution to literature in 1990. His son, Martin, is also a famous novelist.