It has been announced that writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

A statement posted on his Instagram account confirmed he died in the early hours of Thursday. The statement went on to say that Zephaniah's wife was with him throughout and when he passed.

"We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news," it added.

Born and raised in Handsworth, in Birmingham, Zephaniah moved to London aged 22 and published his first book, ‘Pen Rhythm’, with his work heavily influenced by Jamaica. As his profile grew, he was credited with bringing Dub Poetry into the British mainstream.

Also a celebrated educator, he wrote five novels as well as poetry for children, with his first book for younger readers, ‘Talking Turkeys’, being a huge success upon its publication in 1994. On top of his writing work, Zephaniah was an actor and appeared in the BBC drama series Peaky Blinders between 2013 and 2022.

He rejected an honour from Queen Elizabeth II over Britain's empire and links to slavery. "Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator. He gave the world so much," the statement announcing his death said.

"Through an amazing career including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television and radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy." A statement from the Black Writers' guild, which Zephaniah helped establish, said: "Our family of writers is in mourning at the loss of a deeply valued friend and a titan of British literature.

“Benjamin was a man of integrity and an example of how to live your values." Others paying tribute included author Michael Rosen, who said: "I'm devastated. I admired him, respected him, learnt from him, loved him.

“Love and condolences to the family and to all who loved him too." ITV News presenter Charlene White posted: "Thank-you for everything Benjamin Zephaniah."

Broadcaster Trevor Nelson said: "So sad to hear about the passing of Benjamin Zephaniah. Too young, too soon, he had a lot more to give. He was a unique talent."

Singer-songwriter and musician Billy Bragg added: "Very sorry to hear this news. Benjamin Zephaniah was our radical poet laureate. Rest in power, my friend."

The X/Twitter account for Premier League football club Aston Villa, whom Zephaniah supported said everyone at the club was "deeply saddened" by the news.

"Named as one of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008, Benjamin was a lifelong Aston Villa fan and had served as an ambassador for the AVFCFoundation. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

He was 65.