LONDON: Erich Segal, the author of the hugely popular novel Love Story, has died of a heart attack on January 19. He was 72.

A rabbi’s son, born in New York City in 1937, Segal had a long, distinguished academic career in classics, gaining a doctorate at Harvard and teaching at Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth. He worked on surreal popular works like the 1968 screenplay to the animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine while also publishing works on Greek tragedy, Latin poetry and ancient athletics.

Published in 1970, Love Story was about a young couple who fall in love, marry and discover she is dying of cancer. A much bigger audience caught up with the film version, which starred Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw. Directed by Arthur Hiller. Segal also wrote a sequel, Oliver’s Story, published in 1977, and made into a film, with O’Neal again in the lead male role.

At his funeral, his daughter Francesca spoke of the knowledge that had been destroyed by Parkinson’s disease. She said, “He fought to breathe, fought to live, every second of the last 30 years of illness with such mindblowing obduracy, is a testament to the core of who he was — a blind obsessionality that saw him pursue his teaching, his writing, his running and my mother, with just the same tenacity.”

Segal was an honorary fellow of

Wolfson College at Oxford University. He is survived by his wife, Karen James, and daughters Francesca, 29, and

Miranda, 20.