He died on Saturday at his home in Patagonia, Arizona, his publisher, Grove Atlantic, confirmed, but the exact cause of death is still unknown.
“We are very sad to hear about his death,” Morgan Entrekin, CEO of Grove Atlantic, told CNN. “He left a great body of work that is going to live on.”
Harrison, who authored nearly 40 books – including novels and collections of poems – was considered the master of the novella and his work was compared to that of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The Michigan native, who attended Michigan State University, often wrote about characters who came from rural backgrounds.
Harrison’s most famous work is probably his 1979 novella Legends of the Fall, which was turned into a film starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins in 1994.
An avid outdoorsman and gourmand, Harrison enjoyed hiking, fishing and cooking – which he often wrote about. According to CNN, in his younger years he also used to go carousing with drinking buddies like Jack Nicholson and the writer Thomas McGuane. Harrison was also featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, which took place near Harrison’s home in Livingston, Montana.
“A giant. A Titan. A friend. RIP Jim Harrison,” Bourdain tweeted about Harrison’s death. “There will be no more like him. I am told he left with pen in hand.”
Harrison’s wife, Linda King Harrison, whom he married in 1959, died in October. He is survived by his two daughters, Jamie Potenberg and Anna Hjortsberg; a sister, Mary Dumsch; a brother, David; and three grandchildren.