Frank McCourt, of 'Angela's Ashes' fame, dead at 78: NYT


June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 19, 2009 at 8:11 PM EDT

Frank McCourt, the Irish-American memoirist whose impoverished childhood in 1930s Ireland darkly colored his best-seller "Angela's Ashes," which won him a Pulitzer prize, has died aged 78, The New York Times reported Sunday.

McCourt was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn in 1930 into a large Irish Catholic family. When the family could not find work in Depression-era New York they headed home to Ireland, but things only got worse.

His "Angela's Ashes" was a narrative of childhood woe in Limerick city, with an alcoholic unemployed father, amid malnourishment and rats. Three of his siblings died amid the squalor.

But it was told with innocence and warmth, making McCourt a literary sensation and the following year, he took home a Pulitzer.

McCourt, who worked for more than two decades as a schoolteacher, even managed to write with sympathy for his father who drank up scarce family funding and eventually left home.

The story was made into a 1999 Hollywood film, sold over four million copies, and was translated into 17 languages. McCourt was honored with National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the ABBY Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

"'Tis," McCourt's second book, picks up where the first left off as he arrived back in the United States at age 19. McCourt's 2005 "Teacher Man" chronicled his 27-year career in New York's school system. All were bestsellers.

McCourt dropped out of school at 13, and during the Korean War he was stationed in Germany and was able to study. He later enrolled at New York University before taking the lead in a city classroom.

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