Frank McCourt, the beloved raconteur and former public school teacher who enjoyed post-retirement fame as the author of Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of woe about his impoverished Irish childhood, died of cancer at age 78.
McCourt had been gravely ill with meningitis and recently was treated for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. He died at a Manhattan hospice, his brother Malachy McCourt said on Sunday.
Until his mid-60s, Frank McCourt was known primarily around New York as a creative writing teacher and as a local character - the kind who might turn up in a New York novel - singing songs and telling stories with his younger brother and otherwise joining the crowds at the White Horse Tavern and other literary hangouts.
But there was always a book or two being formed in his mind and the world would learn his name, and story, in 1996, after a friend helped him get an agent and his then-unfinished manuscript was quickly signed by Scribner. With a first printing of just 25,000, Angela's Ashes was an instant favorite with critics and readers and perhaps the ultimate case of the non-celebrity memoir, the extraordinary life of an ordinary man.
"F Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives.