Flannery O’Connor

One of the most beloved literary voices of the 20th century, Flannery O’Connor was a Southern writer and devoted Roman Catholic born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925.  She wrote two novels and two books of short stories, often examining questions of morality and ethics, in a style classified as Southern Gothic.  Faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are also prevalent subjects of her writing.  O’Connor’s father passed away in 1941, when she was only fifteen years-old, and the following year she went to Georgia State College for Women, where she earned a social sciences degree.  She was accepted by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1946, and published her first novel, Wise Blood, in 1952.  In response to remarks about her emphasis on “grotesque” characters in her stories, she replied, “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.”  She faced some fairly harsh criticism from some of her critics and contemporaries, but she endured it gracefully, and much of her work portrays troubled people who experience God’s divine grace.  Prior to publication of her first novel Ms. O’Connor was diagnosed with lupus, a cross she would have to bear for the next thirteen years until her death in 1964.  Flannery was 39 when she passed away, and laid to rest in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia.  An interesting fact about her, she was fascinated by birds of all kinds and raised ducks, ostrich, emus, toucans, peacocks, and “any sort of exotic bird she could obtain,” according to Wikipedia.  Among her close friends were two other famous American writers, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, and she maintained a close relationship and correspondence with her mom throughout her life.  Rest in peace, Ms. O’Connor.

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