Page last updated at 20:02 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 21:02 UK

Angela's Ashes author gravely ill

Author Frank McCourt
Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt contracted meningitis

Frank McCourt, author of best-seller Angela's Ashes, is gravely ill with meningitis and unlikely to survive, his brother has said.

The 78-year-old writer, whose father was from Antrim, is being cared for in a New York hospice.

His brother Malachy said Frank McCourt's faculties were shutting down.

The author, whose first book sold millions of copies, was recently treated for melanoma, one of the most serious forms of skin cancer.

Malachy McCourt said his brother had been doing well until about two weeks ago, when he contracted meningitis.

"He got meningitis and that screwed up the whole thing," he said.

"Until then he was doing okay, speaking and lecturing and appearing and signing and doing all the usual stuff."

"He was one of the unfortunate ones. Only three to five percent of people who have melanoma get this form of meningitis."

"He's still conscious, but his hearing has gone and his eyesight is going. He's speaking less."

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