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More success followed The Painted Bird; Steps won the 1969 National Book Award while Being There was turned into a BAFTA winning film starring Peter Sellers. Scandal and controversy were never far away though; a committed S&M freak and compulsive liar he has faced numerous accusations of plagiarism, with one book going so far as to claim he wasn’t even fluent in English when The Painted Bird was published, asserting instead that he used uncredited editors and ghost writers to pen his story. In 1969 he dodged death at the hands of the Manson family when he missed a plane to LA, therefore canceling his planned appearance at Roman Polański’s villa on the night of the Sharon Tate murders. Plagued with heart pains he ended his suffering in 1991, taking a mix of drugs and alcohol before taping a bag over his head and drowning himself in a bathtub. His suicide note simply stated: ‘I am going to put myself to sleep for a bit longer than usual. Call the time eternity.’ He leaves an extraordinary legacy, with total book sales topping seventy million and his works translated into over thirty languages.