SNAPSHOT: Flannery O'Connor

SNAPSHOT: Flannery O'Connor


Though she lived a brief life, Flannery O'Connor's characters are immortal in the annals of Southern Gothic lit


Born March 25, 1925, Flanner O'Connor stands tall in American letters as an icon of Southern Gothic literature.  Her writing paints characters of grotesque hyper-realism, and her stories often feature shocking conclusions and, always, moral overtones.

A devout Catholic who never married, her work has in recent years been the target of "cancellation" efforts for her use of racial stereotypes and slurs, both in her characters as well as in her own personal letters. Yet, as she herself said of her output, her focus in writing was "the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil."

Born in Savannah, O'Connor started college in Georgia before leaving to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. After completing her studies she moved to New York City before returning to Georgia.  

At the age of 26, O'Connor was diagnosed with lupus, the same disease that had claimed her father's life when she was a teenager. went to live the rest of her life at Andalusia, her family's dairy farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, and occupied her time by writing, painting, attending Mass and--famously--caring for her beloved peacocks, chickens, ducks, and other animals. 

In her all too brief life O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories. Her novels are Wise Blood (1952), and The Violent Bear It Away (1960). Her stories are collected in A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and the posthumous Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965), which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.

O'Connor died in 1964 at the age of 39. Today Andalusia is open as a museum to her memory and legacy, complete with her writing desk, her crutches, wheelchair, . . . and peacocks.

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