Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies
Southern writer Reynolds Price was the recipient of numerous literary awards.
January 21st, 2011
01:25 PM ET

Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies

Reynolds Price, a renowned Southern writer and a professor at Duke University for more than 50 years, has died.

Price died of cancer Thursday at age 77, the university announced.

"With a poet's deep appreciation for language, Reynolds Price taught generations of students to understand and love literature," Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said in a statement on the university's website.

"Reynolds was a part of the soul of Duke; he loved this university and always wanted to make it better. We can scarcely imagine Duke without Reynolds Price."

Price's 1962 book "A Long and Happy Life" received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel. His novel "Kate Vaiden" received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986.

"I don't think there's any question, he was the most important writer in North Carolina," Anthony Abbott, a retired Davidson College English professor, told the Charlotte Observer.

Price taught courses on creative writing and the work of 17th-century English poet John Milton. The professor, who called himself an "outlaw" Christian, also taught a course on the Gospels of the Bible, according to the university.

"I will always remember the young man who taught me literature. He had me mesmerized,” Madeline Hartsell, a 1962 Duke graduate who studied under Price, told CNN affiliate WRAL. “There are few teachers whom we remember and who we believe inspired us to write, to read and to love words. That was Reynolds Price’s legacy.”

His readings of Halloween stories were a campus tradition for years, the university said.

Price was good friends with singer James Taylor, the two collaborated on Taylor's song "Copperline," according to WRAL.

Price survived spinal cancer in the mid-1980s, but the aggressive treatment he underwent left him paralyzed and forced to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, according to the Observer.

His disability "was a mere complexity in the ongoing narrative which God intended me to make of my life," he wrote in his 2006 book, "Letter to a Godchild."

According to the Observer, there will be no public funeral. His body will be cremated and his ashes scattered near his home in Durham, North Carolina.

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Filed under: Art • Literature • North Carolina • Obituary
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. GuerillaGorilla


    January 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KimberlyFDR

    He died of complications from the heart attack he suffered on Sunday, not a relapse of cancer.

    January 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • prof. sam hamod

      thank u, kimberly. reynolds was a fine writer, an old friend of mine, and it is a real loss. i too have had heart surgery, it's always hard to tell how well it will work out; very sorry we lost him.
      thank u for getting the truth out to us.
      sam hamod

      January 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |

    Duke is in North Carolina?

    January 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |

    i bet you more people know who dr.suess is then this guy..

    i love green eegs and ham.

    January 22, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |