Biography of Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor was born Mary Flannery O'Connor on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. In 1938, she moved to Milledgeville with her family after her father was diagnosed with lupus. He died from the disease three years later when Flannery was only fifteen years old; she herself would eventually die of the same illness.

After graduating from Georgia State College for Women in 1945, Flannery (who had dropped her first name) attended the Iowa's Writers' Workshop at the Graduate College of the State University of Iowa. The Geranium: A Collection of Short Stories, her first book, was submitted as her Masters thesis. She mailed it to the editors of Accent in February 1946, and they published it in the following summer's issue.

Flannery moved to New York, where she met Elizabeth McKee, who would become her good friend and literary agent. She also met the famous classics translator Robert Fitzgerald and his wife, Sally. She came to think of them as her family, and in 1949 she moved in with them in Redding, Connecticut. While in New York, she also met Robert Giroux, who became her editor and publisher. Giroux wrote the introduction to The Complete Short Stories, published in 1971.

After being diagnosed with lupus in 1951, Flannery moved back to her family's farm called Andalusia in Milledgeville. Her writing was most prolific during this time, especially in the three years between 1952-55. She was completing Everything That Rises Must Converge just before her death. She died after slipping into a coma at a hospital in Milledgeville on August 3, 1964.

Much that is known about O'Connor's attitudes toward her themes is revealed in her personal correspondence. Aside from communications with people like Richard Stern, John Hawkes, Katherine Anne Porter, and Caroline Gordon during her time at Andalusia, O'Connor wrote weekly letters to her best friend, Betty Hester, for over ten years. An unedited collection of the letters was published by Emory University in 2007.

O'Connor's southern upbringing and Catholic faith is reflected in the themes of most of her work, including novels Wise Blood (published 1952) and The Violent Bear it Away (published 1960). O'Connor is considered one of the greatest short story writers of the 20th century, and her revered collection A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. "Revelation", included in Everything That Rises Must Converge, was the sole winner of the O. Henry Award in 1965.

Study Guides on Works by Flannery O'Connor

Wise Blood was the first of two novels written by Flannery O'Connor. Begun in 1947, some of its chapters appeared individually in Mademoiselle, Sewanee Review, and Partisan Review in 1948 and 1949 before it was published in its complete novel form...