Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt - David Shankbone - cc
Frank McCourt - David Shankbone - cc

Frank McCourt is an American-Irish writer and teacher famous for his work “Angela’s Ashes”, an autobiographical account of his difficult childhood in Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s. Now considered one of the great writers of this century, Frank McCourt is one of the great Irish authors who have won over readers from all over the world .

Biography of Frank McCourt

A miserable childhood in Limerick

Frank McCourt was born on August 19, 1930 in Brooklyn to a poor family. Eldest of a family of 4 children, Frank faces very early the death of his little sister aged less than 7 weeks. His parents, Malachy McCourt and Angela McCourt are overwhelmed by this loss, and are without any money. The couple therefore decides to leave America to return to Ireland, in the city of Limerick.

The McCourt family moved to the slums of Limerick and went hungry. Frank’s father, Malachy McCourt, seems unable to find a job and keep it. An alcoholic, he goes so far as to spend his meagre unemployment benefits on pints at the pub, sadly starving his wife and children…

After several difficult months, Frank McCourt sees his twin brothers, Oliver and Eugene succumb to malnutrition problems. The whole family is overwhelmed… But Angela McCourt announces that she is pregnant again with a boy, who will be named Alphonsus McCourt.

At the age of 12, Frank McCourt sees his father leave his family for good. He will never see him again. From then on, it is up to him to take care of his family, and Frank starts a few jobs to feed his family. He works in coal transport, but is stopped in this task after serious medical problems.

At the age of 15, Frank McCourt embarks for America, becomes a teacher and a writer

At the age of 15, Frank McCourt wanted only one thing: to embark for America and leave Ireland. So he managed to do so, bought a ticket to New York and set off alone for the USA. At the age of 19, he graduated from New York University and went on to complete a master’s degree at Brooklyn University, which he won in 1958.

From then on, Frank McCourt chooses the way of teaching, and becomes a teacher in 2 New York high schools (McKee High School and Stuyvesant High School).

It was in 1996 that McCourt decided to launch himself as a writer. He published “Angela’s Ashes“, an autobiographical account of his childhood in Limerick and his family’s struggle for survival. It was a success: Frank McCourt wins the National Book Critics Award, and the Pullitzer Prize. Director Alan Parker even directed a film adaptation: “Angela’s Ashes” with Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson.

In 1999 they published the sequel to Angela’s Ashes, with “What’s America like? “a work retracing his beginnings in the United States as an Irish immigrant. The success was less than for his first book, but McCourt nevertheless received the congratulations of his peers.

In 2005, McCourt published a new story, “Teacher Man,” in which he discusses the challenges inherent in the teaching profession and criticizes the American school system. He then decided to write, with his brother Malachy McCourt (also a writer), a two-part play with an autobiographical purpose.

On 19 July 2009 Frank McCourt died of melanoma. He leaves behind him powerful works, which have forever marked several million readers around the world.