NEW YORK // Frank McCourt, the Irish American author best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir "Angela's Ashes" that chronicled his impoverished upbringing, died on Sunday, The New York Times reported. He was 78. The newspaper said the cause was metastatic melanoma, according to an executive of Scribner, the author's publisher. A school teacher who came to writing late in life, Mr McCourt won acclaim with his poignant, extraordinarily bleak picture of a childhood growing up in the slums of the Irish city Limerick.
"Angela's Ashes" brought Mr McCourt a 1997 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and other honours. Millions of copies of the book were sold worldwide and it was adapted into a 1999 movie starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle. Born in New York, he was the eldest of seven children born to Irish immigrant parents. "Angela's Ashes" was an unsparing memoir that captured a feckless, drunkard father with a gift for storytelling. When not drunk, his father was absent, turning his back on a family so poor, Mr McCourt wrote, that they were reduced to burning the furniture in their rented hovel to keep warm.
After leaving school at 13, Mr McCourt supported his mother and brothers and sisters with occasional jobs and petty crime. At 19, he returned to the United States, finding work at a New York hotel. He subsequently trained as a school teacher, only later becoming a published writer.