Life of Flannery O'Connor
Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925, over the years Flannery O'Connor has become a highly respected American novelist and short story writer. Her death in 1964 at age 39 cut short a promising career. During her life, she was recognized as a talented writer. After her death her "Complete Stories" won the 1972 United States National Book Award for Fiction.
O'Connor's early life was marked by tragedy. She lost her beloved father in 1941 when she was just 15. Edward O'Connor died of lupus erythematosus, a disease that O'Connor herself contracted in 1951 and that would eventually kill her 13 years later. Despite the debilitating effects of her illness, O'Connor wrote two novels, many short stories and essays.
Flannery O'Connor graduated from Georgia State College for Women( now Georgia College) in 1945. A promising writer, she was advised to apply to the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. While a graduate student there she met other writers such as Robert Penn Warren, Robie Macauley and Andrew Lytle. Very shy, she was afraid to read her stories in class. Her thick southern accent made it difficult for some of her fellow classmates to understand her. She earned her M.F.A in 1947. Her thesis was a collection of short stories entitled "The Geranium."
After living in New York City for a short time, O'Connor met Robert and Sally Fitzgerald. They developed a close friendship and O'Connor accepted an invitation to board wth them in their Connecticut home. She lived happily with them for over a year. She worked on her first novel, "Wise Blood", and enjoyed the company of the Fitzgeralds and their children. The Fitzgeralds and O'Connor were devout Catholics and their conversations were often about religion. Her contentment and happiness were cut short by her illness. In 1950 she began to have pains in her arms. She was advised to return home to Milledgeville, Georgia. She spent many weeks in a hospital in Atlanta and almost died. Her illness was diagnosed as lupus, the same disease as her father. She and her mother lived at Andalusia, the family farm. Despite her physical condition, she continued to write fiction and letters to friends. She even travelled to give lectures and readings of her stories. A collection of stories was published in 1953 and a second novel in 1960. Her last collection of stories was published in 1965, a year after her premature death. She wrote to the end, displaying great courage
O'Connor's short stories and novels are grounded in her devout Catholic faith. They deal with issues about the nature of good and evil, original sin, and redemption through grace. She mixed humor with shocking violence. Stories such as "A Good Man is Hard to Find" demand careful reading and thought. A southern writer of much depth and complexity, Flannery O'Connor's contributions to American literature remain formidable and many articles continue to be written about her novels and stories.