Bridges of Madison County author Robert James Waller dies, 77

Robert James Waller author of

Robert James Waller author of"The Bridges of Madison County" signing books in 2002

Robert James Waller, a little-known professor whose melodramatic 1992 novel "The Bridges of Madison County", about the love affair of a roaming photographer and a lonely farm wife, became a runaway best seller and the basis for a 1995 film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, died during the night of March 10 at his home in Fredericksburg, Tex.

According to Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency, Waller died either Thursday or early Friday in Texas.

His book, which was translated into 40 languages, turned Madison County, Iowa, into an global tourist attraction. Streep was Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated for her performance opposite Eastwood, with Madison County, Iowa also enjoying a huge increase in its tourist numbers thanks to the film and book.

Waller will be greatly missed.

"It all just came pouring out", he told New York Daily News. "I am open to rational discussion". But the criticism turned to nastiness.

Around the town of Winterset, population 4,200, tourists arrived by the busloads, buying "Bridges" T-shirts, perfume and postcards.

Waller had written a few essays, but had never attempted fiction before The Bridges Of Madison County.

Thousands signed in at the Chamber of Commerce office, where they could use restrooms marked "Roberts" and 'Francescas'. Then, Waller wrote a sequel called "A Thousand County Roads - An Epilogue to The Bridges of Madison County".

Robert James Waller was born August 1, 1939, in Rockford, Iowa, and received a doctorate in business management from Indiana University.

The author moved to a remote ranch in Alpine, Texas after Bridges became a hit. He taught management, economics, and applied mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa from 1968 to 1991.

Other books in his bibliography include: "Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend", "Puerto Vallarta Squeeze" and "Border Music". A national tour with Elizabeth Stanley set off in 2015.

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