Farewell, Christopher Hitchens.

The fiery journalist, essayist and Vanity Fair contributing editor passed away at age 62 in Houston, Texas Thursday following a battle with esophageal cancer. (Vanity Fair broke the news late Thursday.)

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In his published articles, two-dozen books and frequent TV and radio appearances, the British-born author relished intense political, cultural and intellectual debate.

Among his most talked-about works were his criticism of Mother Teresa, his devout atheism and his extreme journalistic experiments; in 2008 he subjected himself (for 16 seconds) to waterboarding following a lengthy debate over the interrogation technique.

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"There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar," Vanity Fair's editor-in-chief Graydon Carter said in memoriam. "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."

Hitchens is survived by his wife, writer Carol Blue, and three children. Even during his last days, Hitchens stayed busy, keeping a full slate of wide-ranging, provocative essays for Vanity Fair.

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"My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends," Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair's June 2011.

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