"Angela's Ashes" is a 1996 memoir by Frank McCourt. The book won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as the Boeke Prize. The novel retells the events of McCourt's childhood leading up to his move to America when he was 20 years old. McCourt grew … [Read more...] about Angela’s Ashes
Frank McCourt was born on August 19th, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York. Frank's parents were both from Ireland and the family moved back there when Frank was only four years old. The family suffered excruciating poverty and the losses of many of Frank's siblings from childhood illnesses. Frank's father, Malachy was a former Irish Republican Army member. Malachy was a prolific alcoholic who could not hold down a job.
After the start of World War II, Malachy went to work in a munitions factory in England and eventually abandoned the family altogether. Frank had to leave school at 13 and begin working to support his family. Eventually, he saved up enough money and moved to America when he was 19.
Frank arrived in New York City in October of 1949. He managed to get a job at the Biltmore Hotel and was allowed to stay there. He sent half of his paycheck home to his mother and brothers. Eventually, his two surviving brothers joined him in New York, and later their mother did as well.
In 1951, Frank was drafted into the Korean War. He was sent to Bavaria for the next few years afterward, returning to New York to work on the docks. Frank began attending New York University in the mid-1950's, using his G.I. Bill. He had to convince the school to let him in, as he did not have a high school diploma. Four years later, he graduated with a bachelors degree in English. After this, he began teaching in schools all over New York, including New York City College of Technology and Seward Park High School.
In 1961, he married his first wife, Alberta Small. The couple had one daughter. Several years later in 1967, Frank decided to go back to school and earned a masters degree. Returning to Dublin, Ireland, he attempted to get his Ph.D. at Trinity College but did not manage to do so and eventually returned to New York.
In 1979, Frank and his wife divorced, and he remarried five years later to Cheryl Floyd, a psychotherapist, only to divorce again ten years later. Frank married his third and final wife, Ellen Frey in 1994 and the two lived in New York City.
In 1996, at the age of 66, McCourt wrote his first book, a memoir about his childhood in Ireland named "Angela's Ashes." The book was a huge success and won a Pulitzer Prize the following year. The book spawned two sequels, "Tis" in 1999 and "Teacher Man" in 2005, both continuations of Frank's life after the end of "Angela's Ashes." Although neither did as well, the release of 'Angela's Ashes' made Frank very wealthy. Frank has been accused of exaggerating much of the level of his families poverty in "Angela's Ashes," most notably by his mother, Angela who claimed it was "all a pack of lies."
In 2009, McCourt was diagnosed with melanoma and underwent chemotherapy. He died on July 19th, 2009 at a hospice in Manhattan at the age of 78.