Bryce Courtenay, the Australian author who had a string of blockbuster novels starting with The Power of One, has died. He was 79.
Courtenay died Thursday at his home in Canberra. He had been suffering from stomach cancer.
Courtenay posted an emotional ‘thank you’ message to his fans in an online video two weeks ago to mark the publication of his final novel, Jack of Diamonds.
"My use-by date has finally come up and I've probably got just a few months to live. I don't mind that, because I've had a wonderful life," he said in the video.
"But part of that wonderful life has been those people who have been kind enough to pick up a Bryce Courtenay book and read it, and enjoy it, and buy the next one, and be with me in what has been for me an incredible journey. All I'd like to say is, as simply as I possibly can, thank you."
The Power of One
The South African-born Courtenay moved to Australia in the 1950s and worked for 30 years in the advertising industry in Sydney.
He burst onto the literary scene in 1989 with his first novel, The Power Of One, about a child's journey to adulthood under South Africa's apartheid regime.
It sold more than eight million copies and was translated into 18 languages as well as being adapted for the screen.
"I was absolutely staggered when somebody wanted to publish it in the first place," Courtenay said in his official biography released by Penguin.
"Now its worldwide success and the fact that it's available in 12 languages still amazes me," he said.
Book deals with AIDS
Courtenay dedicated its sequel, Tandia, to his third son, Damon, a hemophiliac who died of medically acquired AIDS at the age of 24 in 1991 — two months before the book was published.
That tragedy inspired his third book, 1993's April Fool's Day, which deals with the public fear of AIDS.
Courtenay was one of Australia's most commercially successful authors, following up with The Night Country, also set in South Africa and the Australian trilogy The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawke and Solomon’s Song. That series, about a poor British serving girl sent to a Tasmanian penal colony, became a mini-series on Australian TV.
More recent works include Matthew Flinders' Cat and Brother Fish.
Courtenay recently responded to claims he had embellished details of his life, saying "I take a fact and put a top hat on it, and a silk shirt and a bow tie, but I don't ruin the fact."
He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1995.
He married his first wife Benita in the U.K. in 1958 and they divorced in 2000. She died in 2007.
Courtenay is survived by his second wife Christine, and his children Adam and Brett.