“He died this morning of complications of the diabetes he had,” said a source at his Spanish publisher, Anagrama, who asked not to be identified.
Sharpe, who wrote 16 best-selling novels, died in the coastal town of Llafranc, Catalonia, where he had lived since the late 1980s, the source said.
He divided his time between Spain and Cambridge, England, according to his US publisher Random House.
Considered by many fans as Britain’s funniest writer, Sharpe created the anti-hero Henry Wilt, a polytechnic lecturer in literature frustrated by his home life, his students and the labyrinthine academic rivalries he faced at work.
Six novels chronicling Wilt’s riotous life, in which he plots to murder his wife, struggles with international terrorism and finds himself suspected of drug trafficking, drew a huge audience.
Sharpe was educated at Lancing College and Pembroke College in Cambridge and moved to South Africa in 1951 after serving with the Marines.
Many critics consider his first two books, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, to be among his finest, both lampooning society in South Africa.
Two top sellers were made into television series: Porterhouse Blue, about the academically mediocre Porterhouse College, and Blott on the Landscape, which recounts the fight of a gardner, Blott, to prevent a motorway being laid though picturesque rural England.
Sharpe, who was married, was a history lecturer at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology from 1963 to 1972.
He was awarded the 13th Grand Prix de l’Humour Noir Xavier Forneret in 1986 and the inaugural BBK La Risa de Bilbao Prize in 2010.