July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt dies; wrote ‘Angela’s Ashes’

Frank McCourt, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Angela's Ashes, died in New York Sunday of cancer, his family announced. He was 78.

The cause was metastatic melanoma, McCourt's brother, Malachy McCourt, told The New York Times.

Frank McCourt capped a 30-year teaching career in the New York City public system by writing a memoir of his wretched childhood in Ireland during the Depression. Angela's Ashes became an enormous best seller when it was published in 1996 and earned Frank McCourt a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Frank McCourt told audiences that as a lad in Limerick he would sometimes wish he would be sentenced to prison where he would be assured of having a bed and regular meals, the Times said.

While plugging away as a teacher, Frank McCourt made occasional stabs at the literary world through magazine articles and a play about his childhood co-written with Malachy McCourt, a writer and actor.

Francis McCourt was born Aug. 30, 1930, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family returned to Ireland when he was 4.

He returned to New York at 19, served in the U.S. Army and earned a degree from New York University in 1957. He began teaching in New York schools the following year.

He is survived by Ellen Frey, his third wife, whom he married in 1994, as well as three brothers, a daughter and three grandchildren.