Acclaimed author, Louisianian Ernest Gaines dies at 86

Acclaimed author, Louisianian Ernest Gaines dies at 86

Ernest Gaines, the acclaimed author of "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "A Lesson Before Dying" and other major literary works, died Tuesday morning of natural causes at his Pointe Coupee Parish home, his family said. He was 86.

Gaines, a Pointe Coupee native, was born on a plantation near New Roads in 1933 that he later bought and continued to live on. He moved to California at age 15 because his Louisiana parish didn't have high schools for African Americans during the Jim Crow-era.  

“Aside from the fact that he was so immensely talented, he was a good person," his wife Dianne Gaines said Tuesday afternoon.

After finishing high school, he served in the Army and attended San Francisco State University before enrolling in Stanford University's creative writing graduate program.

He was a novelist, short story writer and teacher. He taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a writer-in-residence in 1981. Gaines retired in 2004.

This report will be updated.