Famed Novelist And Former Ohio University English Professor Dies

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Daniel Keyes, the author of the high-school staple "Flowers for Algernon," died on Sunday, according to his publisher.

He was 86.

Keyes' short story "Flowers for Algernon," which he eventually turned into a novel, is narrated by a mentally disabled adult named Charlie Gordon. Charlie, who has an IQ of 68, undergoes an experimental procedure to increase his intelligence after the experiment is successfully performed on a mouse named Algernon.

"If the operashun werks good Ill show that mouse I can be as smart as he is even smarter," Charlie says. "Then Ill be abel to reed better and spell the werds good and know lots of things and be like other pepul."

Charlie's IQ shoots to 185, but when Algernon starts behaving strangely, Charlie knows that he, too, will begin to deteriorate. Keyes' publisher Tor wrote in a statement that "Flowers for Algernon was an key example of science fiction that tackled problems of depth and emotional consequence; Keyes made a giant contribution to the discussion of science fiction as a serious art form."

The book was made into a motion picture starring Cliff Robertson and released in 1968

Keyes became an English and creative writing professor at Ohio University in 1966.

Keyes wrote three additional novels centering on characters with psychological issues. He also wrote three books of nonfiction, including “The Minds of Billy Milligan” (1981), about a criminal with 24 distinct personalities.

Keyes died of pneumonia at his home in South Florida.

Material for this article provided by NPR