South Carolina author Pat Conroy’s soaring prose made him a literary icon in the state. It inspired two Oscar-nominated movies based on his books and even relocations to the Lowcountry by people wanting to live in the mossy, tide-driven landscapes his writing depicts.
The bestselling author grew up a military brat and moved frequently throughout the South as a child. His violent and abusive father was the basis of “The Great Santini,” one of his best-known works.
Real life was often creative fodder for Conroy’s books, including “The Lords of Discipline,” about The Citadel in Charleston where he was a student, and “The Water is Wide,” about his time teaching underprivileged children in a one-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island.
Now 70, Conroy lives in Beaufort, where he still writes drafts of his books by hand on long yellow legal pads. He is the unpaid editor at large for Story River Books, a USC Press imprint that publishes works of fiction with South Carolina ties.
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Conroy has said he feels he has a responsibility to give back to the state that has given him so much. On his blog, he recently wrote, “It was in Beaufort that I discovered myself, and it provided the stairway into a future that seemed impossible to dream of and terrified me by the force of its ambition.”