Pat Conroy Biography

Author, Educator, Journalist (1945–2016)
Pat Conroy was a 'New York Times' bestselling author best known for his books 'The Prince of Tides' and 'The Great Santini,' both of which were adapted to film.


Born on October 26, 1945, American novelist Pat Conroy grew up as the son of a U.S. Marine Corps pilot. This history helped shape much of his writing, particularly his novel The Great Santini, which describes his father as abusive and dominant. He is best known for his work The Prince of Tides, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film in 1991, featuring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. Having written an array of both fiction and non-fiction, Conroy died on March 4, 2016 at the age of 70.

Growing Up

Pat Conroy was born on October 26, 1945, in Atlanta, Georgia. The first of seven children born into a military family, Pat Conroy was the victim of his father's violence and abuse from a young age. The family moved constantly during his youth, and it was while attending Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, that Conroy wrote and published his first book, The Boo, about a favorite teacher.

Early Works

Conroy became a teacher himself after graduation, taking a job in a small schoolhouse. The racism and deplorable conditions he witnessed became the subject of his next work, 1972's The Water is Wide. The memoir earned wide critical praise and was eventually made into the 1974 film Conrack, starring Jon Voight, and a 2006 film that used the original book title. Conroy's next book, the 1976 novel The Great Santini, delved further into Conroy's past and examined the mix of love, anger and betrayal he felt toward his father. Turned into a 1979 film as well starring Robert Duvall and Blythe Danner, the book was widely acclaimed but came with great personal tumult, which included Conroy's own divorce and that of his parents as well as anger from many of his family members.

Oscar-Nominated 'Prince of Tides'

Conroy continued to mine his past for his work, including 1980's The Lords of Discipline, about his years at the military college the Citadel, and 1986's The Prince of Tides, which remains Conroy's most celebrated work with millions of copies in print. The novel was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte, who also earned a nod for his performance. Other Conroy bestsellers followed, including 1995's Beach Music and the 2003 memoir My Losing Season. In 2013, Conroy released the non-fiction work The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son.

Pat Conroy died at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, on March 4, 2016, at the age of 70 from pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his third wife, fellow writer Cassandra King, as well as two daughters and several grandchildren. 

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