Francis (Frank) McCourt, author of the award-winning novel Angela's Ashes, died Sunday afternoon in New York City. He was 78.
McCourt died at a Manhattan hospice after a short battle with skin cancer. The author announced in May that he was undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma.
In recent weeks, it did not look good for McCourt as rumours began to surface that the author was near death. On July 15, his brother Malachy McCourt confirmed that McCourt was ill after a bout with meningitis and that he had been taken to hospital after his condition had worsened.
A first-time published author at the age of 66, McCourt became famous for his beautiful memoir Angela's Ashes. A detailed account of his childhood in Limerick, McCourt gave a bleak depiction of poverty-ridden New York and his native Ireland. Readers quickly took notice of the biographical tale written with a sense of gentle humour found in the most unimaginable of places.
The memoir achieved great success, winning the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award followed by a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. The book went on to sell over five million copies and was turned into a movie.
In 2002, McCourt was awarded with an honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario, in London. He was also presented with The International Centre in New York's Award of Excellence and the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award.
McCourt continued to narrate his life in his other works 'Tis (1999), Teacher Man (2005) and Angela and the Baby Jesus (2007). His works would follow his new life in America and the challenges he experienced as a teacher.
McCourt was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 19, 1930, to Malachy and Angela McCourt. At a young age, his family returned to their native Ireland in hopes of finding work during the Depression.
While growing up, three of his seven siblings succumbed to disease and malnutrition. McCourt himself almost died from typhoid fever at the age of 10.
When he was 19, McCourt returned to the United States and briefly worked at New York City's Baltimore Hotel. He was later drafted into the army and sent to Germany.
Upon his discharge, McCourt enrolled at New York University. He graduated and went on to earn a master's degree from Brooklyn College. He taught English for the next 30 years at McKee High School and Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
After he retired, McCourt begin writing about his life. He created a two-man musical, A Couple of Blaguards, with his brother Malachy.
He is survived by his second wife, Ellen Frey, daughter Margaret McCourt, granddaughter Chiara, grandsons Frank and Jack, and his brother Malachy.