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Tue Feb 12, 2019, 05:31 AM

Patricia Nell Warren, The Front Runner Author, Dies at 82

Patricia Nell Warren died Saturday at age 82, reports LGBTQ Nation. The cause of death is not yet known.

The novelist, activist, and longtime editor at Reader's Digest is best known for her 1974 book, The Front Runner, which centered on the relationship between a closeted coach, Harlan Brown, and an out gay track star, Billy Sive.

The love story became the first gay novel in modern times to achieve commercial success and rank in The New York Times bestseller list. To date, it has sold over 10 million copies and has been translated into multiple languages. Warren came out as a lesbian shortly after the book's release.

The Front Runner's success sparked Hollywood's interest, and actor Paul Newman was once attached to a possible production. However, a film adaptation never came to fruition.

In her writing career, Warren wrote over 10 novels, among them several sequels to The Front Runner: Harlan’s Race in 1994 and Billy’s Boy in 1997. The author announced she intended to write a fourth and final book for the series in 2017, which she was working on when she died.

By first writing Harlan's story, Warren "hoped non-gay people would read the book as well as gay people," the author stated on The Front Runner's website. "Hopefully, the story of Harlan’s inner battle, his defeats and his victories, would spark the sympathies of as many people as possible. "

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