SANTA FE, N.M. – Evan S. Connell, an acclaimed and adventurous author, whose literary explorations ranged from Depression-era Kansas City in the twin novels “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge” to Custer’s last stand in the history book “Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn,” was found dead Thursday, his niece said. He was 88.
Connell was discovered at his Santa Fe apartment and likely died of old age, said Donna Waller of Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Little known to the general public, but regarded fondly by critics, Connell was a National Book award finalist, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a finalist in 2009 for the International Man Booker Award for lifetime achievement.
Connell was the author of 19 books, including two book-length poems, a biography of Spanish painter Francisco Goya and a historically detailed novel about the Crusades, “Deus Lo Volt!”
He wrote often of seekers and doubters, world travelers through the ages, and conventional folks who secretly yearned to break out.
His best-known books included his first novel, “Mrs. Bridge,” published in 1959 and nominated for a National Book Award. His historical account of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer came out in 1984 and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize. It also was a best-seller and adapted for a network television miniseries.
The husband and wife movie stars, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, appeared in a 1990 film, “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge,” based on Connell’s twin novels, each written from the perspective of the title character.