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W.P. Kinsella (1935 - 2016)

AP Photo / Rusty Kennedy

W.P. Kinsella (1935 - 2016)

W.P. Kinsella, Canadian author whose writing inspired “Field of Dreams,” died on Friday, September 16, 2016, in Hope, British Columbia, according to multiple news sources. He was 81.

Carolyn Swayze, his literary agent, released a statement that Kinsella’s death was doctor-assisted, but provided no further details about his health, according to The Associated Press.

His novel “Shoeless Joe,” about a man who hears a voice asking him to build a baseball diamond in a corn field, was adapted into the hit film “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner.

The phrase, “if you build it, they will come,” from the novel entered popular culture after the success of the film.

The book was born from Kinsella’s lifelong love of baseball. He was fascinated with the figure of Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose career was cut short by the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Kinsella also worked his literary hero, “Catcher in the Rye” author J.D. Salinger, into the book as well. That part was altered to be a fictional author in the film, played by James Earl Jones.


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Born William Patrick Kinsella in Edmonton, Alberta on May 25, 1935, he began writing at a young age, winning a YMCA contest at 14. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in English through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in at the University of Iowa. The idea for “Shoeless Joe” came to him while living in Iowa City.

He wrote seven novels and several collections of short stories. In 1993 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was named to the Order of British Columbia in 2005.

Kinsella is survived by two daughters.

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