PAT CONROY Biography - Writers


Biography » writers » pat conroy


Pat Conroy was born on October 26, 1945, in Atlanta, Georgia, to a Southern           
beauty from Alabama, whom the author often credits for his love of language, and     
a career military officer from Chicago, whose job required his family to move         
many times to different Southern military bases. The first of seven children, he     
changed schools 11 times in 12 years, and finally attended the Citadel in             
Charleston, South Carolina, where he was captain and most valuable player of the     
Varsity basketball team. While still a student, he wrote and then published his       
first book, The Boo, a tribute to a beloved teacher.                                 
After graduation, Conroy taught English in Beaufort, South Carolina where he met     
and married a young woman with two children, a widow of the Vietnam War. He then     
accepted a job teaching underprivileged children in a one-room schoolhouse on         
Daufuskie Island, a remote island off the South Carolina shore. After a year,         
Pat was fired for his unconventional teaching practices--such as his                 
unwillingness to allow corporal punishment of his students--and for his general       
lack of respect for the school's administration. Conroy evened the score when he     
exposed the racism and appalling conditions his students endured with                 
publication of The Water is Wide in 1972. The book won Conroy a humanitarian         
award from the National Education Association and was made into the feature film     
Conrack, starring Jon Voight.                                                         
Following the birth of a daughter, the Conroys moved to Atlanta, where Pat wrote     
his first novel, The Great Santini, published in 1976. This autobiographical         
work, later made into a powerful film starring Robert Duvall, explored the           
conflicts of his childhood, particularly his confusion over his love and loyalty     
to an abusive and often dangerous father.                                             
The publication of a book that so painfully exposed his family's secret brought       
Conroy to a period of tremendous personal desolation. This crisis resulted in         
not only his own divorce but the divorce of his parents; his mother presented a       
copy of The Great Santini as to the judge as "evidence" in divorce proceedings       
against his father.                                                                   
The Citadel became the subject of his next novel, The Lords of Discipline,           
published in 1980. The novel exposed the school's harsh military discipline,         
racism, and sexism. This book, too, was made into a film.                             
Pat remarried and moved from Atlanta to Rome where he began The Prince of Tides,     
which, when published in 1986, became his most successful book. Reviewers             
immediately acknowledged Conroy as a master storyteller and a poetic and gifted       
prose stylist. This novel has become one of the most beloved novels of modern         
time. With over five million copies in print, it has earned Conroy an                 
international reputation. The Prince of Tides was made into a highly successful       
feature film directed by Barbra Streisand, who also starred in the film opposite     
Nick Nolte, whose brilliant performance won him an Oscar nomination.                 
Beach Music, Conroy's sixth book and his first novel since The Prince of Tides,       
tells the story of Jack McCall, an American who moves to Rome to escape the           
trauma and painful memory of his young wife's suicidal leap off a bridge in           
South Carolina. The story takes place in South Carolina and Rome, then reaches       
back in time to the Vietnam War and the horrors of the Holocaust.                     
Pat Conroy divides his time between San Francisco and South Carolina.