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Beloved Lowcountry author, Dorothea Benton Frank, dies

September 4, 2019 - Posted in Palmetto Scene by Tabitha Safdi

In 2010, The Big Picture visited her beloved Lowcountry home on Sullivan’s Island and spent the day getting to know her. In her typical humor, she told us she never dreamed of being an author, she always thought she’d be a “princess.”

Born and raised on Sullivan’s Island, Dorothea “Dottie” Benton Frank was a New York Times best-selling author of 20 novels that use South Carolina as a backdrop.

She died Monday at the age of 67 after a “brief but intense battle with myelodyplastic syndrome, or MDS,” according to the Post and Courier.

After retiring from her career in the apparel industry in 1985, she moved to New Jersey to raise her family. Her first novel, "Sullivan’s Island," published in 2000, debuted on the NY Times list as number nine and went to press over 25 times with well over one million copies in print. She divides her time between the Lowcountry of SC and New Jersey.

When Frank was growing up, she did not think of becoming a writer. Frank had a life in New Jersey, and writing ended up coming to her, when her mother passed away, and she found herself pulled back home to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. 

On an episode of Literary Tour of South Carolina, Frank talks about how she forms her stories and growing up on Sullivan’s Island. 

Dorothea Benton Frank also shared her love for Pat Conroy. In this excerpt from By The River, Frank described Conroy as a “rascally rascal.” Conroy, who passed away on March 4th, 2016, “died on the only day of the year that is a sentence,” Benton Frank noted. 

Benton spent part of her interview on By The River talking about how she believes Conroy never grasped the depth of his contribution to the literary world. His influence, she said, was felt all across the world.

Frank also talks about the special connection with her daughter and the process in which she writes. While some authors share their writing as it “comes to them,” Frank is matter-of-fact in explaining that writing is her full-time job and she has to treat it as such.

“This isn’t shoe money,” she laughed.

Watch the full 2018 interview with Frank here.

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