My Left Foot: Extraordinarily talented Irish artist and writer Christy Brown dies on this day in 1981
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My Left Foot: Extraordinarily talented Irish artist and writer Christy Brown dies on this day in 1981

IRISH ARTIST and writer Christy Brown died on this day 38 years ago.

The Dubliner, who suffered from cerebral palsy, inspired millions with his autobiography My Left Foot, in which he detailed his passion for art and how he never allowed his disability to hold him back.

Mr Brown was born in Dublin in 1932 to a working-class family. He was one of 22 children, only 13 of which survived past infancy.

He was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy soon after his birth, which left him almost entirely incapable of movement apart from in his left leg.

He discovered his passion for the arts at a young age, and adapted to his disability by writing and drawing by using his left foot, the only limb over which he had control.

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His extraordinary talent prompted those close to him to encourage Mr Brown to tell his story through words, and he did so with the autobiography My Left Foot, which became a literary sensation almost overnight.

He was propelled into the international literary scene, and completed his second autobiography Down all the Days when he lived in America with his partner at the time Beth Moore.

The funds he received from his writing allowed him to return to Ireland to a house which was specially designed to accommodate his extra needs. He married Londoner Mary Carr and the pair moved to different places around Ireland before eventually settling in Somerset, England.

The relationship between Mr Brown and Ms Carr was controversial, with rumours that Mr Brown was being abused by his wife. He died at the age of 49 after a choking incident, and his body was found to have bruising consistent with domestic abuse.

Though his life was cut short, his legacy continued to grow.

Eight years after his death, Mr Brown’s first autobiography was made in to a now-famous feature film which starred Daniel Day Lewis. It won several Academy Award nominations and remains widely regarded as being one of the best Irish films ever made.

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During his lifetime, Mr Brown released three novels, two autobiographies and two collections of poetry.

His final work, A Promising Career, was released posthumously following his death.

Christy Brown is still regarded as an important figure in Irish literary and disability activism circles alike.