Monday, July 20, 2009

Frank McCourt Dies at 78

Frank McCourt, author of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Angela's Ashes, died on Sunday, July 19 from cancer at 78. McCourt wrote with warmth, sensitivity, compassion and humor despite his tragic Irish Catholic childhood. His youth was filled with hunger, squalor, disease and touched by tragedy at such a young age. McCourt has written "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive it all." We too might wonder how he managed to survive.

Frank McCourt was born to Irish immigrants, Angela and Malachy McCourt, on August 19, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York. The family later fled to Limerick, Ireland and found themselves in deeper poverty because of the Great Depression. Three of the family's seven children died. Malachy McCourt, the alcoholic father, left the family to survive on their own.

Frank McCourt later wrote about his poverty stricken childhood in Angela's Ashes. The book sold over 4 million copies, has been published in 27 countries and has been translated into 17 languages. Angela's Ashes won the National Book Critics Award, ABBY Award and Pulitzer Prize for Biography. McCourt later wrote Tis , which tells the story of his life after he arrives in America at 19 years of age. Teacher Man is a memoir of his years as an English teacher in the New York City Public School System. These books are tales of tragedy, love, triumph, and sorrow.

Through beautifully descriptive and lyrical language, Frank McCourt has opened our eyes to a childhood spent in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. The pages of these books are filled with sorrow, tragedy, compassion and finally triumph. Thank you for your inspiring work. Frank McCourt will be greatly missed.

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