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Flowers for Algernon author Daniel Keyes dies at 86


Daniel Keyes, the author of Flowers for Algernon, died on Sunday at the age of 86. Flowers for Algernon was published in 1966 but it originally appeared as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1959.

Flowers for Algernon is a bitter-sweet story about Charlie Gordon (32 and working in a bakery), who undergoes an experimental surgery to increase his intelligence. Keyes won a Hugo Award for best short story in 1960, and a Nebula Award in 1966 for best novel. Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom starred in the 1968 movie adaptation (called Charly), which won an Academy Award.

Keyes taught at Ohio University and wrote a number of other books including The Fifth Sally, The Touch, The Minds of Billy Milligan and Unveiling Claudia. His memoir is called Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer’s Journey. The power of the mind often featured in his writing.

“Here was a story which struck me so forcefully that I was actually lost in admiration . . . for the delicacy of his feeling, for the skill with which he handled the remarkable tour de force involved in his telling the story,” wrote Isaac Asimov about Flowers for Algernon.

With Flowers of Algernon being one of the key novels of the 1960s, first editions are collectible particularly if they have been signed.

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Richard Davies

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