A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts…Pat Conroy
The fascinating history of the American South with its plantations, charming people, and scenic landscapes provides writers, artists and the movie industry with rich fodder for their novels, essays, poetry, films, and art.
Whether delving into one or another side of the conflicts or choosing to walk the moderate pastoral path, authors of every ilk have, for centuries, penned their ideas and versions of what the south is all about: family, faith, and country.
But it is the exquisite little Lowcountry town of Beaufort, South Carolina that captured the interest of the film industry as well as some well-known writers, notably the late Pat Conroy, author of Prince of Tides.
Nestled between Charleston and Savannah, on the southeast Atlantic coast, Beaufort is part of Port Royal Island, one of the largest of the coastal sea-islands.
Beaufort, founded in 1711, boasts stately mansions built before the Civil War, avenues lined with moss-draped live oak trees, a charming downtown historic district, and a bustling waterfront that offers the finest shrimp and oyster feasts and festivals anywhere.
Beaufort is also the beloved home of some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet.
Beaufort’s writers and artists are moved and inspired by the beauty of the Lowcountry’s bucolic island landscapes and rich tidal marshes – the perfect backdrops for tales of love, war, family, passion, beliefs, and stalwart patriotism.
His most notable novels “The Great Santini,” “The Lords of Discipline” and, “The Prince of Tides,” brought Beaufort to the attention of the world, especially when in 1991, Prince of Tides, written and filmed in Beaufort, became a blockbuster movie.
In the ensuing decade, Hollywood filmed over a dozen more movies in Beaufort County including Forrest Gump and The Legend of Bagger Vance.
Pat Conroy’s legacy lives on in the thriving literary centre that bears his name and that holds a Pat Conroy Literary Festival each year in October.
Beaufort celebrates its love of film and literature every February by holding the Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) and honoring actors, screenwriters, technical and art directors with achievement awards. This year Dale Dye received the Pat Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Set Decorator Missy Ricker received the Behind the Scenes Award for over20 years of creative work.
The Pat Conroy Literary Center held its second annual March Forth on March Fourth day of learning on Sunday, March 4th, at the Frissell Community House at Penn Center on St. Helena Island. This event commemorated the second anniversary of Conroy’s passing and featured National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney, two-time Lillian Smith Award-winning novelist Anthony Grooms, master naturalist and memoirist J. Drew Lanham, poet and retired teacher Tim Conroy, and best-selling novelist Cassandra King Conroy.