A true loss for the literary world. The Prince of Tides author Pat Conroy died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, on Friday, March 4, less than three weeks after publicly announcing that he has been battling pancreatic cancer. He was 70.
The writer, who also penned The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline, previously told fans that he was going to “fight hard” against the disease.
“I celebrated my 70th birthday in October and realized that I’ve spent my whole writing life trying to find out who I am and I don’t believe I’ve even come close,” he wrote in a touching Facebook post on Monday, February 15. “It was in Beaufort in sight of a river’s sinuous turn, and the movements of its dolphin-proud tides that I began to discover myself and where my life began at fifteen.”
“I have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” he continued. “With the help of the wonderful people at M.D. Anderson I intend to fight it hard. I am grateful to all my beloved readers, my friends and my family for their prayers. I owe you a novel and I intend to deliver it.”
Conroy’s fans respected his works for their nuanced portrayal of dysfunctional families and troubled relationships, which were often reflective of his own troubled childhood.
“The water is wide and he has now passed over,” his wife, novelist Cassandra King Conroy, said in a statement.
His longtime editor, Nan A. Talese of Doubleday, added her own sentiments.
“Pat has been my beloved friend and author for 35 years, spanning his career from The Prince of Tides to today,” she said. “He will be cherished as one of America’s favorite and bestselling writers, and I will miss him terribly.”
The Prince of Tides was adapted into a 1991 Oscar-nominated film directed by Barbra Streisand.
"First, I fell in love with Pat Conroy's book, The Prince of Tides, and then I fell in love with him," Streisand said in a statement on Saturday. "He was generous and kind, humble and loving … such a joy to work with. I was so honored that he entrusted his beautiful book to me.
"Pat's natural language was poetry … he wrote sentences that are like an incantation. He observed every nuance of human behavior and dug deep down to the truth … presenting it in all its glorious and stubborn complexity," she continued. "I am so sad today. I lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a great writer."
Conroy is survived by his wife, Cassandra; his two daughters, Megan and Susannah Ansley Conroy; two sisters, Kathy and Carol Ann; three brothers, Jim, Tim and Mike; and seven grandchildren.
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