Frank McCourt, who passed away Sunday July 19, 2009, taught English in the New York City School system for almost thirty years. Before his retirement, his grandest ambition was to someday be sitting in some audience while one of his award-winning former students publicly acknowledged him as an inspiration. Things turned out quite differently for Frank McCourt. In 1996, he published Angela’s Ashes, a heartbreaking but often hilarious memoir of his truly miserable childhood in Ireland. That book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and remained a bestseller for more than two years.
Rafael Pi Roman spoke with Frank McCourt back in 2006 just after the publication of his third book, Teacher Man. And after spending nearly half a day with him, it was clear why so many of his students had idolized him, long before he became famous. He was funny and warm, charming and gracious and, above all, he was a truly modest man. Here now is his conversation with Frank McCourt, at the old Stuyvesant High School, where he taught for eighteen years.