Peaky Blinders star and poet Benjamin Zephaniah dies aged 65 eight weeks after brain tumour diagnosis

7 December 2023, 11:29 | Updated: 7 December 2023, 12:13

Benjamin Zephaniah has died.
Benjamin Zephaniah has died. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah has died at the age of 65 after a brain tumour diagnosis.

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The poet, known for his works about refugees and healthy eating, also appeared in Peaky Blinders as Jeremiah Jesus.

His family said he was a "true pioneer and innovator" and "gave the world so much".

"It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved husband, son and brother in the early hours of this morning 7th December 2023," a statement read.

"Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

"Benjamin's wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed.

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

"Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator, he gave the world so much. Through an amazing career including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television, and radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy.

"Thank you for the love you have shown Professor Benjamin Zephaniah."

His agent said: "I am sad to confirm the news that Benjamin has died."

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Tributes have since poured in for the poet.

Musician and activist Billy Bragg posted on X, formerly Twitter: "Very sorry to hear this news. Benjamin Zephaniah was our radical poet laureate. Rest in power, my friend."

Premier League football club Aston Villa posted: "Everyone at Aston Villa is deeply saddened by news of the passing of legendary writer and poet, Benjamin Zephaniah.

"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.

"The thoughts and condolences of all at the club are with his family and friends at this time."

Fellow writer Michael Rosen said he admired, respected and loved Benjamin Zephaniah.

He wrote: "The tragic terrible news has come to me that Benjamin Zephaniah's family have announced that Benjamin has died.

"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."

DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson said Zephaniah was a "unique talent" as he paid tribute to the poet and author.

"So sad to hear about the passing of Benjamin Zephaniah," he said.

"Too young, too soon, he had a lot more to give. He was a unique talent R.I.P."

MP Diane Abbott said she was "so sad" at the news Benjamin Zephaniah had died as she paid tribute to the poet and author.

"So sad to hear about the death of poet Benjamin Zephaniah," the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"A great man and a trailblazer."

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