The acclaimed and controversial US writer Gore Vidal has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.

As a Celebrated writer and well known political commentator he produced 25 novels, including the best-selling Burr and the transsexual comedy Myra Breckenridge,. He was born into one of America's grandest political dynasties, and ran for political office twice. He was a literary writers who was also a genuine celebrity – appearing on chat shows and in gossip columns. His circle included Tennessee Williams, Orson Welles and Frank Sinatra. He was also closely linked to the Kennedy family, becoming a confidant of Jackie Kennedy, who was his stepsister.

Among iconoclastic views, Vidal defended his decision to witness the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Vidal referred to himself as a "gentleman bitch" and famously described the United States as "the land of the dull and the home of the literal". He was known as egotistical and caustic. But his legacy will be, that he was elegant, brilliant and a true one off.

Written and presented by Ann Salter