Friday, November 23, 2012

The World Loses Bryce Courtney

Late last night, Australia lost another great writer from her ranks - Bryce Courntey.  Born in South Africa and moving here in the 1950's, Bryce was said to have been a born story-teller and a 'latter-day Charles Dickens', with his strong and complex plots, larger-than-life characters, and his ability to appeal to a large number of readers.  Nearly every year, for the last 15, he would write a 600-page book in around six months, year in, year out. To achieve that feat he used what he called 'bum glue', sometimes writing for more than 12 hours a day.  He brought to writing his books the same determination and dedication he showed in the more than 40 marathons he ran, most of them when he was well over 50.

Courtenay, a father-of-three, soared to the top of the bestseller charts with his 1989 debut, The Power of One, which was subsequently made into a film starring Morgan Freeman.
At the time, he was married to his first wife, Benita, who he met while studying journalism in London in 1955. He followed her to Australia, the pair were married in 1959 and had three sons - Brett, Adam and Damon.

Courtenay's 1993 bestseller April Fool's Day, was a tribute to his youngest son.  Damon, contracted HIV/AIDS through an infected blood transfusion in 1991 and died at the age of 24. 
Courtenay continued to churn out bestsellers almost every year for two decades including The Potato Factory and Tommo & Hawk.
As with most of his books, his final novel, Jack of Diamonds, featured a talented young protagonist fighting the odds to reach great personal and professional heights amidst adversity. The novel - Courtenay's 21st in 24 years - drew on his love of music and his own experiences working in a Rhodesian mine as a teenager.

Courtenay  became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995 and was also honoured with a postage stamp after being named an Australia Post Literary Legend.
Bryce Courtney will be missed by everyone here and around the world in the writing, publishing and reading world.  My heart goes out to his family and friends who are at their darkest moments now; and just know that he's out of pain. 

Herald Sun Tribute to Bryce Courtney 

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