Pat Conroy is one of America’s most acclaimed and widely read authors and the New York Times bestselling writer of ten novels and memoirs, including The Water Is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, and South of Broad.
Conroy was born in 1945 in Atlanta, Georgia. Growing up as the first of seven children in a military family, Conroy moved twenty-three times before he turned eighteen. His father, a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps, was physically and emotionally abusive to his children, an experience that colored much of Conroy’s writing, particularly The Great Santini (1976).
In 1963, after graduating high school, Conroy enrolled in The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. His experience at The Citadel provided the basis for his first book, The Boo (1970), as well as his novel The Lords of Discipline (1980) and his memoir My Losing Season (2002).
After graduating from The Citadel, Conroy took a job as a school teacher in an impoverished community on Daufuskie Island off the coast of South Carolina. He was fired after one year for personal differences with the school’s administration, including his refusal to abide by the school’s practice of corporal punishment. His novel The Water Is Wide (1972), which was honored by the National Education Association, was largely based on his experiences.
In the 1980s, Conroy moved from South Carolina to Atlanta, and then to Rome, Italy, where he wrote The Prince of Tides (1986), about a former football player’s tragic upbringing and its effect on his family. In 1991, the book was made into a major motion picture starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte that was nominated for seven Academy Awards. After publishing his fourth novel, Beach Music, in 1997, Conroy married his third wife, Cassandra King, who is herself the author of four novels. Since then, he has written the memoir My Losing Season (2002), The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life (2004) with Suzanne Williamson Pollak, South of Broad (2009), and the essay collection My Life in Books (2010).
Conroy was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2004 and won the Outstanding Author Award from the Southeast Library Association in 2006. He currently lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina.