Page last updated at 23:47 GMT, Sunday, 19 July 2009 00:47 UK

Best-selling author McCourt dies

Speaking in 2001, Frank McCourt explained what inspired him to write Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt, author of best-seller Angela's Ashes, has died of cancer in a New York hospice.

The 78-year-old Irish-American writer was suffering from meningitis and had recently been treated for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Angela's Ashes, a memoir of McCourt's childhood in Ireland, sold millions of copies and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Before the book's 1996 publication, McCourt was a New York high school teacher for 30 years.

Frank McCourt speaking in 2007 about his children's book Angela and the Baby Jesus

Quoted by the New York Times newspaper, Susan Moldow of McCourt's publisher Scribner said the cause of his death, on Sunday afternoon, was metastatic melanoma.

'Epic of woe'

Born in New York, McCourt travelled to Ireland during the Great Depression with his parents at an early age.

Angela's Ashes provides a graphic description of his childhood in abject poverty in the slums of the Irish city of Limerick.

Frank McCourt had a wonderful way of bringing his past to life
Chris, UK

Described by its author as an "epic of woe", the book was made into a Hollywood film in 1999 starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle.

The BBC's Matt McGrath, an admirer of Frank McCourt's work, says it shone a light on a dark period of Ireland's social history.

His other works include 'Tis and Teacher Man, which both draw on his later life in New York.

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