Author of 'Dune' claimed by cancer

MADISON, Wis. -- Frank Herbert, one of the nation's premier science fiction writers and creator of the novel 'Dune,' died Tuesday after a brief bout with cancer. He was 65.

Herbert, a long-time resident of Port Townsend, Wash., died at the University of Wisconsin's University Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment since discovery of his illness late last year.


'(Herbert) died (Tuesday) during the day -- in the late morning,' said Mary Lang, nursing supervisor at University Hospital at Madison.

The sudden news of Herbert's death shocked friends and relatives throughout Puget Sound, where he grew up and lived. Few knew of his illness and thought he had gone to Wisconsin for specialized treatment of some sort.

'I was so shocked when he told me,' said Ned Brown, Herbert's literary agent in Beverly Hills, Calif. 'I only found out a month ago. He thought they caught it and cleaned everything up. He was so cheerful as can be and told us that everything was fine with him.'

Despite his illness, Herbert was working on another Dune novel with his son at the time of his death.

Herbert, a long-time journalist who worked for several newspapers, first gained notoriety as a science fiction writer in 1965 when he published 'Dune,' a novel that had been rejected by 20 publishers.


But Dune went on to become a major work of science fiction, selling more than 12 million copies. It was made into a motion picture last year.

'He created an entire world,' said Jack Doughty, a close friend who worked with Herbert at both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Examiner newspapers. Herbert also worked for the Oregon Statesman.

Herbert was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1920 and went on to attend the University of Washington. He studied psychology, but later dropped out of college.

Before his success with Dune, Herbert wrote suspense stories and articles for pulp magazines. His first novel -- 'Dragon in the Sea' - was published in 1955.

Herbert is survived by his wife, Theresa, two sons and a daughter.

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