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flannery o’connor

This month kicks off TrailFest ’09 on the Southern Literary Trail. The Trail is a loose association of 18 southern towns in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi that celebrate famous writers and playwrights from the twentieth century and the hometowns that inspired them. Georgia trail sites include Atlanta’s own Joel Chandler Harris and Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O’Connor, Lillian Smith, Erskine Caldwell, Carson McCullers and Alice Walker. In Mississippi, they’re celebrating the Eudora Welty Centennial this year, a very big deal indeed; although I’m disappointed that there’s no field trip to the post office. I once got to wait in a hallway at the Algonquin Hotel with Ms. Welty when our magnetic cardkeys wouldn’t work. It turned out a lot of things in that hotel room didn’t work, but it was all worth it because I got to chat with Eudora Welty.


Mar 24 2008

Georgia Writer Flannery O’Connor

by Nolan R

Flannery O’Connor’s fiction often is labeled as “Southern Gothic” or “Southern Grotesque.” In response to this, O’Connor once said that “anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.”

I grew up reading the stories of Flannery O’Connor, but I’m not sure that high school students these days ever study her work.   A friend of mine is currently taking a graduate class at Georgia College & State University on O’Connor’s work, and while I enjoy O’Connor’s dark sense of humor, I believe my friend is a braver woman than I am to attempt such a class!

O’Connor was born in Savannah, GA on March 25, 1925, and the family moved to Milledgeville, GA in 1938.  O’Connor attended Peabody High School, and later Georgia State College for Women (now GCSU) in Milledgeville.  In 1945 O’Connor received a scholarship in journalism from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa).  After completing her M.F.A. in 1947, O’Connor won the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award and was accepted at Yaddo, an artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York. At Yaddo, she worked on her novel Wise Blood and became friends with the poet Robert Lowell.  After leaving Yaddo in 1949, O’Connor lived briefly in New York City and Connecticut.  In 1950, however, O’Connor was stricken with lupus and was forced to return to Milledgeville permanently. Remaining there from 1951 until 1964, O’Connor lived at Andalusia, the family farm, where she managed to continue to write despite her illness.  On August 3, 1964, however, after several days in a coma, she died from complications of lupus following surgery.  She is buried beside her father in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

In 1972, O’Connor was posthumously awarded the National Book Award for her collection The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor.

For more information on O’Connor: