Frank McCourt: 1930-2009

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, whose body of work includes Angela’s Ashes, Tis, and Teacher Man, died yesterday, Sunday, at age 78 of cancer in Manhattan.

Until his mid-60’s, Mr. McCourt was an amusement on the fringes of the New York literary scene: a beloved storyteller and entertainer, he worked as a creative writing teacher in the city’s public school system and was a fixture at The White Horse Tavern and other hangouts of the bookish set.

After retiring from the classroom in 1996, Mr. McCourt published Angela’s Ashes,  which tells the story of his life, starting with his impoverished Irish roots, and for which he was given the Pulitzer Prize. As the author puts it in his novel’s celebrated preamble:  “Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

“F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives,” Mr. McCourt once noted. “I think I’ve proven him wrong. And all because I refused to settle for a one-act existence, the 30 years I taught English in various New York City high schools.”

Frank McCourt, right, with brother Malachy.

Frank McCourt, right, with brother Malachy.

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