Study Guide

Edwin O'Connor

Edwin O'Connor Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Edwin Greene O’Connor was a widely popular novelist in the 1950’s who also served as a social historian, focusing on the Irish American experience. Born to Dr. John V. O’Connor and Mary Greene O’Connor, he received his education at both a public and a parochial school. Upon high school graduation in 1935, he enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in English. Active in baseball, campus radio, and the literary magazine, O’Connor also spent time with Irish American students whose families were politically active. He enjoyed his studies in English so much that he decided to become a graduate student in preparation for a career in writing. However, he left his graduate studies after a short time and gained his first employment as a radio announcer, a job that would become a collection of experiences in Providence, West Palm Beach, Buffalo, and Hartford. These posts taught him to listen carefully to others’ use of language. During this time he wrote short stories but was not successful in selling any. In 1942 he enlisted in the Coast Guard, becoming a public information officer stationed in Boston.

After he was discharged from the service, he stayed in Boston. Having decided in 1946 to leave the radio business and support himself solely through writing, he established his daily routine of writing in the morning, walking through Boston, visiting regularly the offices of The Atlantic Monthly in the afternoon, and preparing notes in the evening for the next morning’s writing session. In September, 1947, The Atlantic Monthly published his first...

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Edwin O'Connor Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Fanning, Charles. “These Traits Endure.” In The Irish Voice in America: American Fiction from the 1760’s to the 1980’s. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990. Fanning’s thesis is that O’Connor provided influential precedents for younger writers of Irish American literature.

Milne, Gordon. “Professionals: Warren, O’Connor, and Drury.” In The American Political Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966. Provides a through description of O’Connor’s major works.

O’Connor, Thomas D. The Boston Irish: A Political History. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995. Using a general historical approach, the author examines the political influence of the Irish in Yankee Boston.

Rank, Hugh. Edwin O’Connor. New York: Twayne, 1974. This biography of the novelist aims to give a proper assessment of O’Connor’s real talents.