Friday, July 16, 2010

Great American Literature- Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925, to Edward and Regina (Cline) O’Connor. Her childhood home stood in the presence of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. Her life began to form, literally, with the constant impression and presence of Catholicism. Her parents were parishioners of St. John the Baptist and she attended parochial schools at St. Vincent’s Grammar School and Sacred Heart. Edward O’Connor was a realtor owner and Regina was the daughter of a prominent Georgian family. Flannery was their only child. Flannery and her family returned to her mother’s birthplace in Milledgeville, Georgia when she was 12. She later attended Peabody High School and the Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville. Flannery was a child who would rather draw and write than do most anything else. From the time she was small, she had affection for her fine-feathered friends, keeping chickens, peafowl, ducks and geese for company. Nine years after moving to Milledgeville, O’Connor was accepted into the University of Iowa’s writer’s workshops conducted by Paul Engle. In 1949 she met Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, fellow Catholic writers with whom she commenced a life-long friendship. She lived with them for many months and worked on her writing in their secluded Redding, Connecticut home. In 1951, she was diagnosed with disseminated lupus, the same disease that claimed her father’s life, and was forced to return to her ancestral farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville. She spent the remaining years of her life on the farm.

Known in literary circles simply as “Flannery,” O’ Connor has authored two novels, 32 short stories and hundreds of personal letters. She was the epitome of a fine southern lady, yet as a Roman Catholic, she veered from the Southern Baptist culture that surrounded her. For her writings, O’Connor relied heavily on her regional surroundings but not on the sentiments of the “Bible Belt.” Indeed, it was O’Connor’s fervent Roman Catholic faith that was the basis for all she thought, all she said, all she did, and all she wrote. She believed that the reason for her being was to reveal the grace of God in everyday life. While her writings may seem to be full of grotesque characters that commit evil acts, they serve the purpose of supporting her approach to life and death and uncovering the recurrent themes of death, morality, religion and God in her work. It is because of and not in spite of the fact that Flannery O’Connor was “such a Roman Catholic” that her life and her work existed in complete harmony.

If you would like to read more about Flannery O’Connor and her many wonderful works, visit Comforts of Home, The Flannery O'Connor Repository at

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