Author Bryce Courtenay dies

2012-11-23 07:31
Canberra - South African-born author Bryce Courtenay, who wrote about the struggles of life in Australia and South Africa, died at his home in Canberra, his publisher said on Friday, just two weeks after his latest novel was published.

His death late on Thursday came less than three months after he told fans he had stomach cancer. 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," his wife Christine Courtenay said in a joint statement with publisher Penguin Books.

Known for his dedication to work and prolific output, often writing for 12 hours a day, Courtenay sold more than 20 million books. He turned to writing in the late 1980s after a 30-year career in advertising.

A farewell

His first novel, The Power of One, the story of a child growing up under apartheid in South Africa, was an instant hit, selling more than 8 million copies and later made into a movie.

Born into poverty in South Africa, Courtenay studied journalism in London and then settled in Australia with his first wife, Benita, in 1958.

In 1993, he turned to non-fiction with April Fool's Day, a personal account of his son Damon's death after he contracted the Aids virus from a routine blood transfusion.

He usually wrote a book each year. His final novel, Jack of Diamonds, was published in early November, and featured a farewell from Courtenay to his readers.

"It's been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives. Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, 'Thank you. You have been simply wonderful'."

Courtenay is survived by his wife Christine, and two sons from his first marriage.


  • Lyndatjie - 2012-11-23 07:49

    A terrible loss for all who loved his books and for those still waiting to discover his incredible talent. RIP Bryce

  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-11-23 07:52


  • Tamandjaz - 2012-11-23 08:00

    The Power of One is one of the most amazing novels i have ever read... RIP Bryce

  • Leah - 2012-11-23 08:20

    RIP Bryce Courtenay.

  • justin.hawthorne.27 - 2012-11-23 08:20

    Sad day. What a legend. I have read many of his books, all brilliant...but Whitethorn takes the cake for me. Condolences.

  • PrettyUsefulArt - 2012-11-23 08:36

    Aw, I'm so sorry to read this. The Power of One was his best ever. One of my fave books of all time. I laughed, I cried, I cringed and then I laughed some more. RIP mate. You done us proud!

  • Sulette Behnke - 2012-11-23 08:44

    Very sad. Bryce was very talented. "April Fools Day" made a huge impact on me and I'd say it was one of the most touching books I've ever read. Rest In Peace, you can be with your son now.

  • keba.mothoagae - 2012-11-23 08:54

    I thought life and death were defined by reading the Glory Gardens Cricket escapades and the magic of the Harry Potter. That was not until I picked up 'Tandia'. By the end of that year (2005) I'd gobbled up all of Bryce Courtenay's books such was the absorbing nature and the escapism provided by his literature. It's like losing someone I know. Condolences to his family and friends and may he keep on entertaining in the great beyond.

      classwar.trotsky - 2012-11-23 10:59

      Tandia was really good. First one of his books I ever read.

  • maylani.bezuidenhout - 2012-11-23 09:01

    Ah no man... What a loss. Thank you for the beautiful stories. Rest in peace, Bryce.

  • antonia.nicolaisen - 2012-11-23 09:05

    Condelence's to the family.May God strengthen

  • louis.hager.12 - 2012-11-23 09:17

    Thank you for some of the most beautiful stories ever told.

  • tanja.geldenhuys - 2012-11-23 09:26

    I am so shocked I was a big fan and Bryce you will be surely missed! I was mesmerized with each book never a dull moment. RIP

  • beth.cameron.94 - 2012-11-23 09:28

    One of the most incredible authors of his time, and most definitely one of my top 5!! A man who wrote with passion and kept his readers gripped throughout his novels. "The Power of One" is one of those books that all book lovers should read - simply put, a masterpiece. I have been fortunate enought to read almost all of Mr Courtenay's works, and will get a copy of his latest novel as soon as I possibly can. To the Courtenay family, my sincere condolensces. Your husband and father will be sorely missed by millions. Go well Bryce and RIP

  • colin.taylor.9883 - 2012-11-23 11:46

    What a sad loss.... Power of One and The Four Fires were brilliant books.

      beth.cameron.94 - 2012-11-23 19:17

      Colin, if you so enjoyed those two novels you must read "Whitethorn"!

  • candy.hooke - 2012-11-23 11:56


  • ACEUP - 2012-11-23 12:07

    one of the best writers ever produced out of South Africa, How very sad am I today to read this news, I mourn this great man as though he were my true friend. Rest in peace Bryce your great novels will be revered by me for all of my days. Your #1 South African Fan

  • lyn.duplessis - 2012-11-23 12:45

    RIP Bryce, may you continue to live on through your words. Condolences to the family x

  • vanwykclaire - 2012-11-23 13:31

    Thank you for the words…they were all beautiful.

  • 0001000ghost - 2012-11-23 14:14

    Shame man, my condolences to the family. In really enjoyed your books Mr Courtenay

  • DaWyqydLyzyrd - 2012-11-23 16:01

    His novels are compelling, thought-provoking works of art. Thank-you Bryce, for many satisfying hours while reading your prose. R.I.P.

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