Pat Conroy, the author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, has died from pancreatic cancer. He was 70.
He announced last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer, saying he intended to "fight it hard."
Doubleday, Conroy's publisher, released a statement confirming Conroy's death. He died at his Beaufort, S.C., home.
"Pat has been my beloved friend and author for 35 years, spanning his career from The Prince of Tides to today," said his longtime editor Nan A. Talese in a statement. "He will be cherished as one of America's favorite and bestselling writers, and I will miss him terribly."
Conroy’s speech at the Book and Author Breakfast at the 1986 American Booksellers convention caused a sensation; it became the event of the show, turned The Prince of Tides into a national bestseller, and was talked about for years to come. He spoke eloquently of his mother’s influence on his life and work, of her encouragement for him to become the Southern writer she had always wanted him to be, and of her recent death from cancer. As the Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported at the time, “Wedged between celebrity speakers, Conroy, in his stemwinding fashion, stole the show. ‘He blew Walter Cronkite and Carol Burnett out of the water,’ said Conroy's New York literary agent, Julian Bach.”
Houghton Mifflin initially printed 250,000 copies for The Prince of Tides, which published in September 1986; it was the largest first printing in the history of the company until that point. Paperback rights were bought by Bantam Books for $1.3 million, and the 1991 movie adaptation had a domestic gross of $75 million.
Below, PW's previous Conroy coverage.
September 5, 1986, profile, upon the publication of The Prince of Tides.