Pat Conroy, the bestselling author of books like The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, has passed away at the age of 70. Conroy rose to literary fame for his memoirs and semi-autobiographical fiction, both of which drew on his traumatic childhood.
Pat Conroy was born and raised in the lowlands of South Carolina, where he suffered through a terrible upbringing. Conroy was raised by a sadistic father who beat his sons and wife. A military man, Conroy’s father also forced his children to participate in deranged military-style drills. Conroy’s mother taught her son to lie about this abuse, but she also shared with him her love of reading.
Conroy’s traumatic childhood later became the subject of his novels, which were often largely autobiographical. He also wrote a series of more straightforward memoirs, which also dealt with his childhood abuse. Conroy got the literary world’s attention with his novel The Great Santini, which was later adapted into a feature film staring Robert Duvall. Conroy’s third novel, The Prince of Tides, was his breakout achievement. The Prince of Tides is about a man confronting his past; like most of Conroy’s works, it draws on his own childhood. The Prince of Tides was also adapted to the big screen.
Conroy revealed last month that he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away on Friday at the age of 70 after a brief battle with the disease. He was mourned by nearly 1,200 people at his funeral. The New York Times has written up a very nice obituary for Conroy, which you can read here.