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Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, dies aged 86

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Colin Dexter wrote 13 Inspector Morse novels

Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse books, has died aged 86.

His publisher said in a statement on Tuesday: “With immense sadness, MacMillan announces the death of Colin Dexter who died peacefully at his home in Oxford this morning.”

His series of 13 Morse novels, written between 1975 and 1999, were adapted for the long-running ITV series, starring John Thaw.

Dexter’s characters also featured in spin-off shows Lewis and Endeavour.

‘Sharpest mind, biggest heart’

He wrote his first Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, in 1975 while on holiday in Wales. The fictional detective was then killed off in the final book, The Remorseful Day.

Maria Rejt, Dexter’s most recent editor at MacMillan, said the author had “inspired all those who worked with him”.

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John Thaw, centre, starred as Inspector Morse alongside Kevin Whately as Lewis

“His loyalty, modesty and self-deprecating humour gave joy to many. His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart, and his wonderful novels and stories will remain a testament to both,” she said.

Norman Colin Dexter was born in 1930, in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and studied Classics at Cambridge University.

He worked as a Latin and Greek teacher from 1954 to 1966, before moving to Oxford – where he set his books about Inspector Morse and his assistant, Sergeant Lewis – to become a full-time writer.

Carlton Productions made 33 Morse TV films with Thaw in the lead role alongside Kevin Whately as Lewis. Dexter himself appeared in many cameo roles.

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Colin Dexter receiving his OBE in 2000

In later life, Dexter had type 2 diabetes, a condition that he also gave Morse in the last few books of the series.

When Dexter received an OBE for services to literature in 2000, he said he would have liked to think his fictional detective would have bought him a celebratory whisky.

“I think Morse, if he had really existed and was still alive, would probably say to me, ‘well, you didn’t do me too bad a service in your writing’.

“He might say ‘I wish you’d made me a slightly less miserable blighter and slightly more generous, and you could have painted me in a little bit of a better light’.

“If he had bought me a drink, a large Glenfiddich or something, that would have been very nice, but knowing him I doubt he would have done – Lewis always bought all the drinks.”

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