President Michael D. Higgins has led tributes to the celebrated Irish author William Trevor who has died at the age of 88.

The President said he had learned "with great sadness" of Trevor's death and described him as "a writer of elegance, with words and themes".

The death of the short-story writer, playwright and novelist was confirmed on Monday by his publisher, Penguin Random Ireland.

Trevor, a master of the modern short story started out as an artist and was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork in 1928 as William Trevor Cox. He was regarded by many as one of Ireland's greatest authors of the past century.

Despite residing in Devon for many decades he once said: "I always call myself an Irish writer. I’m one of the few Irish writers who actually likes the phrase. Since I am an Irishman, I feel I belong to the Irish tradition".

Trevor went on to write over fifteen novels, which were garlanded with awards. He was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize four times for Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neills Hotel (1970), The Children of Dynmouth (1976) Reading Turgenev (1991) and The Story of Lucy Gault (2002), though remarkably never won the award despite being favourite on that occasion.

Trevor was considered to have been one of Ireland's greatest writers

He was also shortlisted for the IMPAC Literary Award and he won the Whitbread Award for Fiction three times for his novels.

Among the other many awards and honours he received included an honorary knighthood in Britain in 2002 for services to literature. He has also adapted several of his own works for the stage, television and radio and won a Jacob's Award in 1982 for the TV adaptation of his much-loved short story, The Ballroom of Romance.

Fellow writers were quick to pay tribute to the man. John Banville said "he is one of the great short-story writers, at his best the equal of Chekhov" while Anne Enright said as a writer he was "watchful, unsentimental, alert to frailty and malice".

Joseph O'Connor told the Irish Times that Trevor was "a gentle and courteous man, a peerless writer, a laureate of the settled sadness of so many Irish lives".

Despite being unable to attend due to ill health, he was last year bestowed with the honour of Saoi by Aosdána, which is awarded for singular and sustained distinction in the creative arts.

He is survived by his wife Jane and their two sons, Patrick and Dominic.