A giant of modern American literature has died at the age of 70. Author Pat Conroy passed away on March 4, according to multiple reports in South Carolina. Just two weeks before his passing, Conroy said he was being treated for pancreatic cancer. He is best known for his books The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline and The Prince of Tides.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Conroy Wrote on February 15 that He Would ‘Fight the Cancer Hard’
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that Conroy’s cancer had been particularly aggressive. On his Facebook page, Conroy said on February 16, “I have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 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.
2. He Is Survived by His Fellow Writer Wife Cassandra King
He’s survived by his wife, Cassandra King. Through a family friend, she delivered the message that, “The water is wide but he has now crossed over,” reports the Island Packet. She too was a writer, her most famous work is Queen of Broken Hearts, Conroy told the Associated Press in 2007, “I’ll hear her cackle with laughter at some funny line she’s written. I’ve never cackled with laughter at a single line I’ve ever written. None of it has given me pleasure. She writes with pleasure and joy, and I sit there in gloom and darkness.”
3. Conroy Is Being Mourned Extensively on Twitter
There’s been an outpouring of emotion for Conroy on Twitter. Here are some of the most poignant messages:
4. His Last Work, ‘The Death of Santini’ Came Out in 2013
Conroy was working on a novel at the time of his death, as stated in the Facebook post announcing his cancer. His last published book was The Death of Santini. In their review, the Washington Post wrote, “…Conroy has fashioned a memoir that is vital, large-hearted and often raucously funny. The result is an act of hard-won forgiveness, a deeply considered meditation on the impossibly complex nature of families and a valuable contribution to the literature of fathers and sons…” Conroy’s first book, The Boo, was published in 1970, it was a collection of anecdotes about his time at the Citadel.
5. His Time in Military School Inspired Much of His Early Work
He was a native of Atlanta but spent most of his life in South Carolina. Conroy was living in Beaufort, South Carolina at the time of his death. His father had been a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. By the time Conroy was 18, he had moved 23 times. He was a graduated of The Citadel, the famed military school. His time at the school is detailed in his memoir, My Losing Season.