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Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Memoirist and NYU Alumnus, Dies at 78

July 20, 2009
N-516, 2008-09

Frank McCourt, Irish-American teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist whose autobiography of growing up poor in Limerick, Ireland captured the imagination of millions of readers, died on July 19 in Manhattan.

McCourt graduated from New York University’s School of Education (now the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development) in 1957 with a B.S. in English Education. Following master’s work at Brooklyn College, McCourt set out to teach English in the New York City school system, first at McKee High School on Staten Island and, later, at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan. His teaching career spanned nearly thirty years.

A born storyteller, McCourt rose to prominence following the critical and commercial success of Angela’s Ashes, his 1996 memoir which won the Pulitzer Prize for autobiography. An unstinting look at a childhood of privation, Angela’s Ashes was also a generous and tender account of the author’s Irish family. Called a “classic modern memoir” by the New York Times, the memoir introduced readers to McCourt’s lyrical prose style.

McCourt followed up with two subsequent memoirs, ‘Tis (1999) and Teacher Man (2005), which continued the story of his life following his immigration to the United States, his service during the Korean War, and his first tentative years as a school teacher in New York City.

A member of the National Arts Club, McCourt was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from New York University in 2000.

He is survived by his brothers, Malachy McCourt and Alphie McCourt; his wife, Ellen Frey; his daughter, Maggie McCourt, and three grandchildren.

Type: Press Release

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt

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