“Pat Conroy at 70: A Literary Festival Celebrating South Carolina’s Prince of Titles” will take place on October 29 – 31, 2015 in Beaufort in honor of Pat Conroy’s 70th birthday on October 26. The festival will be an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of this literary icon through an interconnected series of special events centered around the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s historic campus. Pat Conroy at 70 is organized by the University of South Carolina Press in partnership with numerous other organizations, including Historic Beaufort Foundation, Beaufort History Museum, the Beaufort Film Society, and the Pat Conroy Archive at USC Libraries. SC Humanities supported the programming with a Major Grant in February 2015.
The Pat Conroy at 70 festival will bring together acclaimed writers and artists from across and beyond the South, each influenced in her or his way by Conroy, as well as members of the Conroy family, his fellow Beaufort writers, and others from Conroy’s extraordinary writing life. In a series of panel presentations and roundtables, this pantheon of notables will discuss their respective experiences with Conroy and his continuing role as a mentor to emerging writers and an advocate for southern literature. The participants will include Conroy’s fellow New York Times best-selling writers Ron Rash, Mary Alice Monroe, and Patti Callahan Henry; SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth; internationally recognized artists Jonathan Green and Wendell Minor; historian and radio host Walter Edgar; Conroy’s wife and fellow novelist Cassandra King; his siblings Mike, Kathy, Jim, and Tim; his agent Marly Rusoff, former editor Jonathan Galassi, and current editor and publisher Nan Talese; his accomplished former students Valerie Sayers and Sallie Ann Robinson; and both established and emerging writers published in Conroy’s Story River Books imprint including Lillian Smith Award winner Pam Durban and 2014 SC Academy of Authors honoree John Lane.
Award-winning actor Blythe Danner and Michael O’Keefe will appear at the festival for a screening of the film adaptation of Conroy’s novel The Great Santini and a moderated discussion of Conroy on film, all made possible by the Beaufort Film Society.
In addition, the Pat Conroy at 70 partnerships include a public exhibition of materials from the Conroy Archive at the Historic Beaufort Foundation’s John Mark Verdier House (a partnership between USC Libraries and Historic Beaufort Foundation), a tour of homes and gardens associated with Pat Conroy as part of Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Fall Festival of Homes & Gardens, a tour of Daufuskie Island with Sallie Ann Robinson, and a birthday party at the Beaufort History Museum. Collectively these events will celebrate the rich writing life of one of the South’s most beloved and acclaimed storytellers while also highlighting the robust cultural life of Beaufort and of South Carolina.
The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 23-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.