Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy's bestselling novels made the Atlanta-born writer one of the most highly praised, most widely-known Georgia authors of the last half-century.

Donald Patrick Conroy grew up as the oldest son of an autocratic military man and a mother who instilled in him a love of literature and language. His father's harsh emotional and physical and violence toward the family became "the central fact of my art and my life." Torn by conflicting loyalties and emotions, Conroy's heroes rebel against oppressive situations and institutions that are ruled by exclusive, rigid concepts of manhood, school and race. Meanwhile they struggle to survive family tragedy and attempt to emerge from emotional and external turmoils with a wounded, imperfect sense of self and belonging. Critics often note that Conroy's writing -- like that of Thomas Wolfe, an acknowledged influence -- favors expansive, lyrical prose, and his stories center upon family dramas that play out amid a strong sense of place.

Conroy's peripatetic military family settled in Beaufort, South Carolina, when he was in high school and the "Coastal Kingdom" between Charleston and Savannah often plays a prominent role in his works. The Boo, his first book, was composed by Conroy as a tribute to a beloved assistant commandant at the Charleston military college he attended, The Citadel. The Water is Wide, Conroy's next book, recorded his turbulent year as an backwoods elementary school teacher on rural, isolated Daufuskie Island. The book was successfully adapted twice by Hollywood: first, as a feature film (Conrack) in 1974, and again in 2006, as a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie,under the original title.

Conroy's next novels enjoyed increasing commercial success, elevating the author to best-seller status. A successful Hollywood adaptation of The Great Santini, a coming-of-age story of a young man and his love-hate relationship with his abusive, Marine fighter pilot father, secured Conroy's fame. Actor Robert Duvall's Academy Award-nominated appearance in the movie role of Colonel "Bull" Meecham -- the eponymous "Great Santini," and the fictionalized representation of Conroy's own father -- became an iconic Hollywood performance. 

On the heels of Santini's success, The Lords of Discipline -- a thriller that involved a secret fraternity carrying out the covert agenda of a repressive and racist Southern military college -- was also  adapted for the screen and made the paperback bestseller lists of both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly as a result.

Conroy's next book, The Prince of Tides, drew literary critics' praise and lifted him into the top ranks  of successful American novelists. A story of a man struggling with a nervous breakdown against the backdrop of a tormented family history, The Prince of Tides spent fifty-one consecutive weeks on the New York Times' hardcover bestseller list. The book sold 350,000 first-run copies (with eventual sales in the millions) and became a blockbuster Hollywood movie, for which Conroy co-wrote the Academy Award-nominated screenplay.

Conroy's fourth novel, Beach Music (1995), followed a Charleston man living in Italy with his young daughter, grappling with his wife's suicide and a series of painful family relationships. Conroy's My Losing Season (2003) marked his creative return to autobiography, in which Conroy mirrored his own painful family life against his college basketball team's losing 1966 season. In a subsequent  unconventional memoir, Recipes from My Life (2004), described by the author as "my autobiography in food and meals," Conroy brought together essays and recipes from his years living in the South, Rome, and Paris.

Conroy’s South of Broad, his final, sweeping novel of friendship and marriage set in Charleston, South Carolina, was published in 2010, followed in 2013 by another autobiographical work, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son, an account of growing up with his father’s abuse and the path to their eventual reconciliation.

Conroy's many literary awards included the Georgia Governor's Award for Arts (1978), the Southern Regional Council's Lillian Smith Award for fiction (1981) and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust's Humanitarian Award (1996).

Pat Conroy died at his South Carolina home at the age of 70 from pancreatic cancer. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, a posthumous collection of Conroy's nonfiction writing with an introduction by his widow, novelist Cassandra King, was published in October 2016.

Photo of Pat Conroy by David G. Spielman, ©1997.



The following titles may be found in the Hall of Fame Library:

The Boo. Verona, Va.: McClure Press, 1970:

The Water is Wide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. [1972]

The Water is Wide. New York: Dell Pub. Co., 1973, c1972.

The Great Santini. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.

The Great Santini. New York: Avon Books, 1976.

The Great Santini. London: Collins, 1977.

Introduction to Dear Heart (By James L. Townsend. [Conroy Manuscript]) 1980?

The Lords of Discipline. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.

The Boo. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1981.

The Lords of Discipline. London: Secker & Warburg, 1981.

The Lords of Discipline. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1982.

The Lords of Discipline. London: Corgi, 1982.

The Prince of Tides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.

Die Herren der Insel. [Prince of Tides. German.] Bergisch Gladbach: Lubbe, 1987.

The Great Santini. New York: Bantam, 1987.

The Prince of Tides. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

The Prince of Tides. Toronto; New York: Bantam Books, 1987, c1986.

The Water is Wide. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

The Boo. Atlanta, GA: Old New York Book Shop Press, 1988, c1970.

Le Prince des Marees. [The Prince of Tides. French.] Paris: Presses de la Renaissance, 1988.

Le Prince des Marees. [Prince of Tides. French.] Publisher: Montre´al : Laffont, 1988.

The Water is Wide. Atlanta: Old New York Book Shop Press, 1990.

The Lords of Discipline. Atlanta, Ga.: Old New York Book Shop Press, 1991, c1980.

The Boo. Marietta, Ga.: Mockingbird Books, 1993.

The Great Santini. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.

Beach Music. New York: N.A.Talese, 1995.

Cancao do Mar. [Beach Music. Portuguese.] Sao Paulo, SP: Editora Best Seller, 1995.

Beach Music. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

Beach Music. [Beach Music. French.] Paris: Albin Michel, 1996.

The Prince of Tides. London: Black Swan, 1996.

Der Gesang des Meeres. [Beach Music. German.] Bergish Gladbach: Bastei Lubbe, 1998.

Thomas Wolfe. Atlanta: Old New York Book Shop Press, 2000.

My Losing Season. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2002.

The Great Santini. New York: Bantam Books, 2002.

The Lords of Discipline. New York: Bantam Books, 2002.

Beach Music. [Beach Music. Italian.] Milano, Bompiani, 2003.

La Mia Stagione no. [My Losing Season. Italian.] Milano: Bompiani, 2003.

Saison Noire. [My Losing Season. French.] Paris: Albin Michel, 2003.

The Great Santini. Atlanta: Old New York Book Shop Press, 2004.

The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2004.

South of Broad: A Novel. New York: Doubleday, 2009.

My Reading Life. New York: Doubleday, 2010.

The Death of Santini. New York: Doubleday, 2013.

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life. New York: Nan Talese, 2016.


Manuscript Holdings

Pat Conroy's manuscripts and personal papers are largely held by the University of South Carolina Libraries' Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Special Collections Department of the Emory University Libraries in Atlanta, Georgia, also holds some of Conroy's manuscripts and screenplay drafts.