Umberto Eco Dead At 84; Italian Philosopher Wrote 'The Name Of The Rose'

Eco transcended the worlds of academics and fiction, penning numerous internationally acclaimed works.

20/02/2016 1:28 PM AEDT | Updated 20/02/2016 2:35 PM AEDT

Umberto Eco, the revered Italian writer and philosopher best known for The Name Of The Rose, died at age 84 on Friday, Italian media reported.

Eco's death was confirmed by a statement attributed to unnamed family members given to the newspaper La Repubblica. The relatives said he died at his home, but provided no further details. Eco's U.S. publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, confirmed his death in a statement, according to NPR. HuffPost was unable to reach the publisher.

Born in in 1932 in Alessandria, Italy, Eco achieved worldwide acclaim for his work in semiotics -- the study of signs and symbols and how they are used -- and his extensive written works. As an academic, he wrote on semiotics, medieval aesthetics, linguistics and philosophy.

But it was his fiction that carried his name around the world.

"I’ve always thought of myself as a scholar who, at a certain point, began to write novels on the weekend ... in the summer," Eco told Publisher's Weekly.

Jacopo Raule via Getty Images

 The Name Of The Rose, his 1980 historical murder mystery, was his most popular novel, selling more than 10 million copies. It was later made into a movie starring Sean Connery. He wrote several other novels, including Foucault's Pendulum. His latest work, Number Zero, was published in 2015. Eco also authored several children's books.

Eco served as a Norton professor at Harvard University from 1992 to 1993, and taught semiotics at Bologna University. 

Ulf Andersen via Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi expressed sorrow at the news of Eco's death, and his appreciation for the writer's work.

"A huge loss for culture, which will miss his writing and voice, his sharp and living thought, his humanity," Renzi said.

Eco is survived by a wife and two children.

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