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Famed Author Pat Conroy Dies At 70

By Ashley Hume
Posted On Mar 06, 2016
Famed Author Pat Conroy Dies At 70

Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, has passed away at the age of 70, just a few weeks after announcing he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The novelist’s death was confirmed in a statement made by his publishing company Doubleday. Todd Doughty, a Doubleday representative said, “Conroy died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, surrounded by family and loved ones.” The statement included a quote from Conroy’s wife, novelist Cassandra Conroy, who said, “The water is wide and he has now passed over.”

Having survived a brutal upbringing, Conroy was famous for drawing inspiration for his novels from his own traumatic experiences with family dysfunction. Conroy based the violent father figure and main character in his debut novel, The Great Santini, on his own father, U.S. Marine Colonel Donald Conroy, an abusive tyrant who beat his wife and children.

The book’s publication initially caused a rift in the Conroy family, with some relatives believing that the author had exposed family secrets for his own gain in writing about his father’s abuse. However, the book ended up being more than a cathartic release for Conroy and actually led to his reconciliation with his father, who drastically improved his behavior in an effort to set himself apart from his literary alter ego.

The 1986 publication of The Prince of Tides sent Conroy’s career soaring to the next level after the book became a smash success and was adapted into a hit movie. Over the course of his five decades as a writer, Conroy continued to turn experiences from his difficult youth into compelling stories set against the background of his beloved home state of South Carolina.

Conroy said during an interview with Inside Edition, “Writing has not been therapeutic for me, but it has been essential. I have written about my mother, my father, my family … and if I get it on paper, I have named the demon.”