Best-selling South Carolina author Dorothea Benton Frank dies, family says

Famed South Carolina author Dorothea Benton Frank died after a brief illness.
Famed South Carolina author Dorothea Benton Frank died after a brief illness.

Following a brief illness, best-selling author Dorothea Benton Frank died Monday, the family of the South Carolina writer said.

Frank wrote 20 books, all primarily set in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, according to her website. Many titles bear the names of Palmetto State locales, such as “Sullivan’s Island,” “Isle of Palms,” “Pawley’s Island” and “Folly Beach,” among others.

The 67-year-old’s most recent book, “Queen Bee,” debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times Best Seller List when it was released in May, the Charleston City Paper reported.

I write about where I want to be. If I’m not there (in the Lowcountry), I want to be there,” Frank said in an interview with the Post and Courier.

Famed South Carolina author Dorothea Benton Frank died after a brief illness.

“I think I’ve learned that if you want to be successful, you have to tell your story honestly and from your heart — and I think a healthy sense of humor doesn’t hurt either,” Frank said of her writing style, according to a tweet from bookseller Barnes & Noble.

“A spokesperson for HarperCollins said Frank died after being diagnosed with “myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer similar to leukemia,” according to WCIV.

Frank’s family confirmed her death with a post on her Facebook page.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing (of) Dorothea Benton Frank, on September 2. Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, there are no words for this loss,” the post said. “... Please keep family and friends in your prayers.”

On Aug. 15, her family posted that Frank had been hospitalized “after a sudden illness” and was receiving treatment.

Frank is survived by her husband, Peter Frank, and two children, Victoria Peluso and William Frank. Information on funeral arrangements was not available.

She was born and raised on Sullivans Island, and as an adult split time between there and a home in New Jersey, per WCIV.

The death of her mother helped inspire Frank to become an author, as she sought to write a book and sell a million copies to help purchase a family home, the Post and Courier reported.

“If I could only read one writer from now until the end of my life, it would be Dorothea Benton Frank,” New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand said, according to WJCL.

“Her books are funny, sexy, and usually damp with sea water,” fellow South Carolina best-selling author Pat Conroy said of Frank before his death in 2016, per the Charleston City Paper.

Conroy’s widow, author Cassandra King, called Frank “a force of nature,” who had “a big heart,” according to the Post and Courier.

“Dottie Frank’s books have the fizz of a gin and tonic, the hilarity of a night out at a comedy club and the warmth of a South Carolina sun,” said Adriana Trigianis, another best-selling author, WJCL reported.

Author and TV producer Kathy Reichs tweeted, “I am gutted to hear of the passing of my dear friend Dorothea Benton Frank. We loved you Dottie. RIP.”

Fans, friends and associates of Pat Conroy remember the legendary writer from Beaufort, who passed away in 2016 at age 70.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.