EDINBURGH-born author Christopher John Sansom, best known for creating the character of Matthew Shardlake, has died at the age of 71.

The historical novelist, known as CJ Sansom, died on Saturday, according to publisher Pan Macmillan.

The character of Shardlake, a Tudor lawyer, was introduced in his first novel Dissolution, which was published 21 years ago.

He released six further novels featuring Shardlake, as well as two standalone historical novels, Winter In Madrid and Dominion.

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His works have just been adapted into the series Shardlake, which features The Innocents star Arthur Hughes as the main character and Game Of Thrones actor Sean Bean as Thomas Cromwell.

The first season of the Tudor murder-mystery series is set to be released by Disney+ on Wednesday.

His literary agent Antony Topping called it an “extraordinarily strange coincidence that Chris has died only a handful of days before a new generation of fans will meet Matthew Shardlake”.

“This is also a moment for which Chris’s established fans have been waiting a long time,” he added.

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“Chris was so proud of all the work and determination that went into bringing the novels to our television screens, which I hope will bring an entirely new audience to the books and which will maybe also inspire some old fans to return to their favourite CJ Sansom novels.

“So long, Chris. I was lucky to know you.”

His editor and publisher, Maria Rejt, said: “An intensely private person, Chris wished from the very start only to be published quietly and without fanfare.

“But he always took immense pleasure in the public’s enthusiastic responses to his novels and worked tirelessly on each book, never wanting to disappoint a single reader.

“He was working on his new Shardlake novel, Ratcliff, when he died but his worsening health made progress painfully slow: his meticulous historical research and his writing were always so important to him.

“I shall miss him hugely, not only as a wonderfully talented writer who gave joy to millions, but as a dear friend of enormous compassion and integrity.”

Born In Edinburgh in 1952, Sansom studied at Birmingham University, where he achieved a BA and PhD in history.

Before becoming a full-time writer, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex.

Lucy Hale, managing director of Pan MacMillan, said: “It has been our profound privilege and pleasure to be Chris’s publisher from the very beginning, and Pan Macmillan will continue to celebrate him and introduce many more readers to his extraordinary body of work for many years to come.

“We are all thinking of his friends at this very difficult time.”