Every woman of a certain age had a certain book on her nightstand in the 90s. At more than 50 million copies, The Bridges of Madison County was one of the best-selling books of the century.

Author Robert James Waller, a Texan by choice, died today at his home in Fredericksburg. He had a form of cancer known as multiple myeloma.

Waller had several books on the New York Times bestseller list during his career. ‘Bridges’ was by far the most famous, and he famously wrote it in 11 days. It became a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood and, a few years ago, became a Broadway musical.

People magazine once noted “The parallels between Waller’s life and his art—his Bridges heroine, farmwife Francesca, sacrifices her chance for happiness with a globe-hopping photographer in order to stay home and shield her loved ones from small-town scandal—haven’t been lost on the locals” – referring to the locals of Alpine, Texas, where Waller’s 35-year marriage ended when he fell in love with the woman who became his second wife.

Waller grew up in Rockford, Iowa, where he’d been exposed to these unique covered bridges. After the book and movie, tourists flocked to see them.

He received his doctorate from Indiana University and later taught college courses in management, economics and applied mathematics.


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