Pat Conroy is perhaps best known for his popular novels that became blockbuster feature films, such as The Prince of Tides, with Barbra Streisand, Beaches, starring Bette Midler, and The Great Santini, featuring Robert Duvall.
His first book, however, was the true story of his year as a teacher on Daufuskie Island, off the South Carolina coast. The book was entitled The Water is Wide, and it became a seminal book in the field of education. The story explores inequity in education and its links to prolonged poverty and racism.
In 1974, Conroy’s story was released as a 20th Century Fox feature film entitled Conrack, starring Jon Voight, Paul Winfield, and Madge Sinclair, with music composed by John Williams. In 2006, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions made into a movie of the same title as the book, featuring Jeff Hephner, Frank Langella and Alfre Woodard, with the music score of Jeff Beal.
The Pat Conroy Literary Center in lovely Beaufort, South Carolina, is in the heart of town, less than a mile from the Visitors Center.
Lectures and other special events are held in the two-level house, which includes exhibits of Conroy’s interests and writings, a place to leave notes in his memory, and a sumptuous office featuring his actual writing desk and chair, as well as mementos from his personal life and professional achievements.
Pat Conroy’s website is at patconroy.com. Readers of books by Nicholas Sparks and Sue Monk Kidd will likely enjoy Pat Conroy’s books as well.
It is still possible to get a sense of what it was like to live on Daufuskie Island among the Gullah people. The island is accessed only by boat and on a limited schedule so plan ahead and allow plenty of time. “Daufuskie” is a word in the Gullah language meaning “The First Key.”
Along the rim of the water in Beaufort, visitors can enjoy numerous restaurants, art galleries, and souvenir shops, all showcasing local talent and craftsmanship.
This is the final stop on our South Carolina Trail!