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'Prince of Tides' author Pat Conroy dies at 70

American writer Pat Conroy, known for his bestsellers "The Great Santini" and "The Prince of Tides," has died at age 70. His books sold millions of copies worldwide and spawned two Oscar-nominated films.

Pat Conroy died on Friday at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, surrounded by friends and family, his publisher said.

"He will be cherished as one of America's favorite and bestselling writers, and I will miss him terribly," his longtime editor Nan A. Talese of publisher Doubleday said in a statement.

The author had announced last month in a Facebook post that he had pancreatic cancer. He had also suffered other health problems in his later years, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

"The water is wide and he has now passed over," his wife, novelist Cassandra Conroy, said.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley tweeted that the state had "lost a beloved son tonight. Pat Conroy will be missed. We can find comfort knowing his words and love for SC will live on."

Cinema successes

Conroy's books sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, and his novels "The Water Is Wide," "The Prince of Tides" and "Lords of Discipline," as well as "The Great Santini," were all made into successful movies.

"The reason I write is to explain my life to myself," Conroy said in a 1986 interview. "I've also discovered that when I do, I'm explaining other people's lives to them."

Many of Conway's works depict life in South Carolina and draw on his memories from childhood. He also wrote openly about growing up as a "military brat" and his anguished relationship with his abusive father, fighter pilot and war hero Donald Conroy.

"I remember hating him even when I was in diapers," Conroy wrote in the postscript to the 1976 novel "The Great Santini," a work that caused a rift with his family. Ten years later, "The Prince of Tides" secured Conroy a wide audience, selling more than 5 million copies.

Born Donald Patrick Conway on October 26, 1945, the author was the eldest of seven children in a family that, owing to his father's military assignments, moved 23 times before he was 18.

Conroy was married three times and had two daughters. Since the late 1990s he had lived on Fripp Island, a gated community near Beaufort.

nm/tj (Reuters, AP)