Angela's Ashes Author Frank McCourt Said to Be Near Death

Angela's Ashes Author Frank McCourt Said to Be Near Death
Frank McCourt
Ulf Andersen/Getty

07/17/2009 AT 09:15 AM EDT

Frank McCourt, the Brooklyn-born, Ireland-raised author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1996 memoir Angela's Ashes, is in a hospice, his brother Malachy McCourt said Thursday.

Frank McCourt, 78, who recently battled melanoma and contracted meningitis about two weeks ago, "is not expected to live," his younger (by one year) brother told Reuters. The author is in a New York hospice, "his faculties shutting down," according to his sibling.

After the best-selling Angela's Ashes, which tracked his unimaginably impoverished childhood and was adapted to the screen in 1999, McCourt went on to write two other memoirs, 1999's 'Tis and 2005's Teacher Man, about his experiences as a New York City high-school and college instructor. He also penned a 2007 children's book, Angela and the Baby Jesus.

Long Embarrassed

Telling why he wrote about his childhood some six decades after he experienced it, Frank McCourt told C-Span Booknotes" host Brian Lamb in 1997: "I always wanted to be a writer, but I
didn't know that I wanted to write about this lane in Limerick,
 this slum. Because anybody that comes from those circumstances 
doesn't want to write about it. You're ashamed of it. You don't
 have any self-esteem.

"So it wasn't 'til I somehow began to gain
 some approval or acceptance from my students in New York or from 
friends of mine … I started talking about growing up 
in Limerick and – I suppose some of the stuff I told them was amusing
 and they'd laugh because … poverty is so absurd."

Frank McCourt has been married to his second wife, Ellen, since 1994. He has a daughter, Maggie, with his first wife, as well as a granddaughter, Chiara, and two grandsons, Frank and Jack.

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