Beaufort Visitors Guide....
PAT CONROY'S ADOPTED HOME
Quite simply, Pat Conroy--author of bestselling novels such as South of Broad and The Water is Wide--loves everything about Beaufort and the Low Country. He says it was the first place he could really call home--and it still is. He and his wife, novelist Cassandra King, own a house in Beaufort.
As the son of a Marine Corps pilot (who he depicts in The Great Santini), Conroy had more than 20 addresses before moving to Beaufort in teh 1960s (another move for his father's job) as he began high school. He says the city embraced him into her history: She was proud to have me call her my hometown.
Conroy also pays tribute to locals who helped him along the way. While attending Beaufort High, he took a creative writing course taught by novelist Ann Morse (who wrote under the name of Ann Head). Conroy says she helped him develop his writing style, and every time he publishes a new book, Conroy takes a rose to her headstone in Beaufort's St. Helena Cemetery. He also credits his Beaufort High School teacher, Gene Norris, with giving him tours of the town that would go on to form the setting for several of his books.
Conroy now provides his own Beaufort tours to visiting friends. He shows them the two-story antebellum manse where Robert Duvall and Blythe Danner lived while making The Great Santini; the palm-surrounded historic home where Barbra Streisand stayed while filming The Prince of Tides; and the downtown Beaufort house on Hancock Street where he wrote The Boo, The Water is Wide, and the first chapters of The Great Santini. Conroy is always eager to share what he loves about Beaufort with all visitors:
*Whats your favorite restaurant in the area?
Shrimp Shack, always. I also like a place out on St. Helena called The Foolish Frog. A friend of mine from high school opened it. And, I generally head to Wrens when Im in town.
*What are your other favorite places in the area?
I love being on Bay Street with those oak trees, and the mansions are just magnificent. I think its one of the most beautiful sights in America. I love the sunsets there--and out at my new house.
*How did you develop such a strong affinity for the area?
When we first crossed the bridge over the Whale Branch River, I remember saying to my mother, My God, its pretty. Id been complaining about another move, but something just clicked and I did not know that I was looking at what would become my lifes work. I went crazy for everything. I love the town and the people. The Low Country and I would be tied together forever.
*Tell us about your most recent projects.
For My Reading Life, I wanted to write something about my mother, her love of reading, and how it affected her children. I became a novelist and my sister Carol became a poet. Its a love letter to books. Im currently working on whats tentatively called The Death of Santini.
Visit www.beaufortsc.org to enter a monthly drawing for a chance to win an autographed copy of Pat Conroy's newest book, My Reading Life. While in town, head to local retailers McIntosh Book Shoppe and Beaufort Bookstore to pick up more bestsellers.