Christy Brown Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The celebrated author Christy Brown was born in 1932, the tenth of twenty-two children born to a bricklayer and a homemaker in working-class Dublin, Ireland. Only thirteen of the children survived infancy, five older than young Christy. His mother noticed developmental differences in her son by the time he was four months old; at a year old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and many doctors told the Browns that nothing could be done for the child, who would always be physically and mentally disabled.

Brown's family was not wealthy in material goods, but they were generous with their time and affection for their son and brother. As a child he was taken out by his brothers, first in a battered go-car and later a wheelchair, into the streets, parks, moviehouses and countryside. Gradually he learned to speak, and to write and paint using his left foot. His mother taught him to read, and a few volunteers gave him books and painting materials. At seventeen Brown visited Lourdes for a few days, and at eighteen he went to London for a day to meet a specialist in the treatment of cerebral palsy.

He began a course of exercise therapy that improved his ability to control his movements, to some extent. About this time he emerged as an author, and eventually his published works included his autobiography, novels, and volumes of poetry. Brown married a young nurse and lived happily with her until his death in 1981, at the age of forty-nine.