Legendary author Bryce Courtenay has died surrounded by family, having suffered from stomach cancer.
He passed away in Canberra late on Thursday with his wife Christine, his family pets, Tim, the dog, and Cardamon, the Burmese cat by his side. He was 79.
"We'd like to thank all of Bryce's family and friends and all of his fans around the world for their love and support for me and his family as he wrote the final chapter of his extraordinary life. And may we make a request for privacy as we cherish his memory." Mrs Courtenay said in a statement released by Penguin publishers.
Courtenay, a South African born Australian novelist, was best known for books including The Power of One and Jessica. It was in September that Courtenay revealed his cancer was terminal and that Jack of Diamonds would be his last book.
Gabrielle Coyne, Chief Executive Officer, Penguin Group, Australia, said: "It has been our great privilege to be Bryce's publisher for the past 15 years. "We, as well as his many fans will forever miss Bryce's indomitable spirit, his energy and his commitment to storytelling."
Bob Sessions, Courtenay's long standing Publisher at Penguin said: "Bryce took up writing in his fifties, after a successful career in advertising. His output and his professionalism made him a pleasure to work with, and I'm happy to say he became a good friend, referring to me as 'Uncle Bob', even when we were robustly negotiating the next book contract. "He was a born storyteller, and I would tell him he was 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.
"Virtually each year for the last 15 years, I have worked with Bryce on a new novel. 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.
"Not to have a new Bryce Courtenay novel to work on will leave a hole in my publishing life. Not to have Bryce Courtenay in my life, will be to miss the presence of a very special friend."
The Canberra Times
Friday November 23, 2012
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