Author, Duke professor Reynolds Price dies

Staff writerJanuary 20, 2011 

— Reynolds Price, a writer who taught more than 50 years at Duke University, died Thursday afternoon. He was 77.

Price, the James B. Duke Professor of English, had a major heart attack early Sunday, according to a press release from Duke.

“With a poet’s deep appreciation for language, Reynolds Price taught generations of students to understand and love literature,” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead in a statement. “Reynolds was a part of the soul of Duke. He loved this university and always wanted to make it better."

Price was a native of Macon, N.C., and graduated from Duke in 1955, the release stated. At Duke, he studied creative writing under professor William Blackburn, whose other Duke students included noted authors William Styron ’47 and Anne Tyler ’61.

Price was a Rhodes Scholar and studied with W.H. Auden and Lord David Cecil. He took a teaching job at Duke in 1958.

In 1962, his novel “A Long and Happy Life” received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel. Price published numerous books after that, including the novel “Kate Vaiden,” which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986.

Price became confined to a wheelchair in 1984 when a cancerous tumor affecting his spinal cord left him paralyzed from the waist down.

“The fact that my legs were subsequently paralyzed by 25 X-ray treatments ... was a mere complexity in the ongoing narrative which God intended me to make of my life," he said in an N&O article about him.

Price’s account of cancer survival is captured in his 2003 book, “A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing.”

According to Price’s wishes, there will be no public funeral. Duke University has not yet announced plans to honor Price.

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