Flannery O'Connor Biography


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, the only child of Edward Flannery and Regina Cline O’Connor. Both her parents were Roman Catholics from active Catholic families, a religious heritage that had a deep effect on her thinking and writing. As a child, she attended parochial school and early developed an interest in domestic birds and poultry. In her later writings she recalled that, when she was five, a newsreel company came to film her pet bantam chicken, which could walk both forward and backward. Years later, in a high school home economics class, she responded to an assignment to make a child’s garment by creating a white piqué coat for a pet chicken. Also during her early years, O’Connor began to develop a talent for drawing and cartooning, an interest which remained with her through her life.

In 1938, her father was diagnosed as having disseminated lupus, a progressive disease in which the body forms antibodies to its own tissues. With that, the family moved from Savannah to Milledgeville, Georgia, where Regina O’Connor’s father had been mayor. Edward O’Connor died in February of 1941, and Flannery remained in Milledgeville for most of the rest of her life, with time away only during her brief period of healthy adulthood between 1945 and 1950.

In 1942, O’Connor entered Georgia State College for Women (now Women’s College of Georgia) in Milledgeville. She graduated with an A.B. degree in English and social sciences in 1945. During her college years, her interests were divided between fiction writing and cartooning. She did both, along with editing, for college publications. After her graduation, she decided to attend the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she had been awarded a fellowship on the basis of some of her stories, which one of her teachers had submitted to the workshop. It was about this time that she began to drop “Mary” and to use “Flannery” alone as a writing name.

The Writers’ Workshop, founded by Paul Engle, was the most prestigious program of its kind when O’Connor was a student there, and she learned much from the experience. One biographer, Harold Fickett, records her willingness to accept criticism from the workshop and her willingness to rewrite work in accord with her teachers’ suggestions. This sort of docility probably did not come easily to O’Connor, who was a person of strong convictions and a willingness to stand up for them. During her time at Iowa, she began to publish stories; her first publication was “The Geranium” in Accent in 1946. That story was one of the six of her thesis collection for the M.F.A. degree, which she received in 1947. She stayed on at Iowa for an additional year, teaching and writing the beginnings of her first novel,...

(The entire section is 1150 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Flannery O’Connor’s relatively short life was, superficially, rather uneventful. O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia, to Regina Cline and Edward Francis O’Connor, Jr. She was their only child. O’Connor’s father worked in real estate and construction, and the family lived in Savannah until 1938, when the family moved to Atlanta. In that year, Edward O’Connor became a zone real estate appraiser for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Shortly thereafter, O’Connor and her mother moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, and her father became so ill that he had to resign from his job in Atlanta and move to Milledgeville. On February 1, 1941, Edward O’Connor died.

In her youth, O’Connor was diagnosed with the same disease that had killed her father when she was almost sixteen. Her short life would end tragically from complications related to disseminated lupus, a disease that attacks the body’s vital organs. From the fall of 1938 until her death, O’Connor spent most of her life in Milledgeville, except for brief hiatuses. After graduating from the experimental Peabody High School in 1942, O’Connor entered Georgia State College for Women (subsequently renamed Georgia College) in Milledgeville, where she majored in sociology and English and was graduated with an A.B. degree in June, 1945. While in college, she was gifted both in drawing comic cartoons and in writing. In September, 1945, O’Connor enrolled at the State University of Iowa with a journalism scholarship, and in 1946, her first story, “The Geranium” (later revised several times until it became “Judgement Day,” her last story), was published in Accent. In 1947, she received the master of fine arts degree and enrolled for postgraduate work in the prestigious Writers’ Workshop. She was honored in 1948 by receiving a place at Yaddo, an artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Planning never to return to the South, O’Connor lived briefly in New York City in 1949 but later moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut, to live with Robert and Sally...

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Flannery O'Connor Author Profile

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Flannery O’Connor summed up her identity in a threefold characterization, calling herself “a Catholic, and a Southerner, and a writer.” Her Catholicism is evident in every story, though few seem to be overtly religious in the conventional sense. Similarly, the South is an element in every story, even those few not set in the South. Finally, as a writer, she experienced the ironic detachment that came from being unusual; her fiction is peopled with misfits and with “normal” Southerners.

Her Catholicism and her Southern identity provided a sense of rootedness for O’Connor. Milledgeville, Georgia, an ancestral home to which the O’Connors moved when Flannery was thirteen, had been the state capital before the Civil War. The Catholic church there was built on land donated by one of O’Connor’s ancestors. O’Connor’s fiction is peopled by familiar Southern types—the itinerant preacher, the illiterate field hand, the former or would-be aristocrat. Such types O’Connor found not in books but in her home town.

Her Catholicism made O’Connor not so much an outsider as a member of a minority culture within an overwhelmingly Protestant South. At Peabody High School in Milledgeville, O’Connor earned a reputation not as a writer but as a cartoonist. She did not continue cartooning beyond college, but O’Connor is often thought to show the cartoonist’s touch in her characterizations. Her characters are drawn in bold,...

(The entire section is 428 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925 and moved with her mother to Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1938. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Women’s College of Georgia in 1945 and received a master of fine arts degree from the State University of Iowa in 1947. She published her first short story, “The Geranium” (Accent, 1946), during her years in Iowa. In 1947, she won the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award for a first novel with a portion of Wise Blood.

On the strength of this award and her promise as a writer, O’Connor was offered a fellowship by the Yaddo Foundation. She accepted and spent several months in Saratoga Springs, New York, but eventually returned to Milledgeville. A few months later, O’Connor moved in with the Fitzgerald family in Connecticut to complete Wise Blood. A serious illness, lupus erythematosus, redirected her life back to Milledgeville in 1951; there she would do the rest of her writing, and there she would die in 1964. From Milledgeville, she carried on a lively correspondence with friends, readers, critics, and her editors at Farrar and Giroux. When health permitted, she made trips to colleges and universities, many of them Roman Catholic schools, to discuss her work and literary art.

O’Connor won a Kenyon Review fellowship in fiction in 1953, a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in 1957, and an O. Henry First Prize in Short Fiction in 1957. She also was granted honorary degrees from St. Mary’s College (1962) and Smith College (1963). She spent the last months of her life completing the stories eventually published in her posthumous collection Everything That Rises Must Converge. The Complete Stories won the National Book Award for fiction in 1971.

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Mary Flannery O’Connor’s literary art combined a disarming Catholic orthodoxy with a Hawthorne-like knowledge of the effect of sin on human relationships, which she set in the Protestant South. It proved to be an irresistible mix even for secular critics, who found her parodies and celebrations of Bible Belt religion compelling and strangely disturbing. Her fiction succeeded not in making Christianity more palatable but in making its claims unavoidable.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925, O’Connor was by temperament and faith a devout Roman Catholic, the only child of Edward O’Connor and Regina Cline O’Connor. After her father fell gravely ill in 1938, she moved with her mother to the old Cline farmhouse,...

(The entire section is 1122 words.)

Flannery O'Connor 20th Century Biography

(20th-Century Biographies)

Early Life

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, the only child of Edward Francis O’Connor, Jr., and Regina Cline O’Connor, both of whom came from prominent Southern Catholic families. Flannery was a happy, sensitive, and independent child. When she was twelve, her father became critically ill with disseminated lupus, a rare and incurable metabolic disease, and the family moved from Savannah into the Cline home in Milledgeville, which formerly had been the governor’s mansion (when Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia). Three years later her father died.

O’Connor attended Catholic elementary schools, Peabody High School, and Georgia College (then Georgia State...

(The entire section is 2358 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(eNotes Publishing)

Born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925, Mary Flannery O’Connor attended Peabody High School and then Georgia State College, majoring in English and sociology. She received a master’s degree in literature from the University of Iowa and then spent seven months at the artist retreat at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs working on her first novel, Wise Blood, which she published in 1952.

In 1950, O’Connor suffered her first attack of lupus, a blood disease that had taken the life of her father when she was in her teens. She worked at her writing every day because she knew her life would be short. O’Connor died of lupus at the age of 39 (in 1964).

O’Connor’s body of work is small, consisting of thirty-one...

(The entire section is 249 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(eNotes Publishing)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, to Catholic parents. She attended Catholic grammar and high school and later Georgia College. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa in 1947. In 1951, she was diagnosed with lupus, the disease that had killed her father. In spite of great pain and discomfort, O’Connor wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories, winning awards and acclaim, before eventually dying of lupus at the age of thirty-nine. Her major collections of short stories include The Life You Save May Be Your Own, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Everything Rises Must Converge.

O’Connor remained a devout Catholic throughout her life, which,...

(The entire section is 236 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia to Edward F. O’Connor, a real estate professional, and Regina L....

(The entire section is 510 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Novels for Students)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in 1925 in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of a middle-class Catholic family. Her father was a realtor...

(The entire section is 497 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Novels for Students)
Flannery O'Connor Published by Gale Cengage

Flannery O'Connor wrote from her experiences as a Roman Catholic raised in the Protestant South. Her religion and regional upbringing greatly...

(The entire section is 469 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Considered one of the most powerful voices of American literary fiction, Flannery O'Connor was born Mary Flannery O'Connor in Savannah,...

(The entire section is 604 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Although she produced relatively few works in her short lifetime of 39 years, Mary Flannery O'Connor is considered one of the most important...

(The entire section is 559 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Flannery O’Connor’s parents had an effect on their only daughter in ways that were both fruitful and tragic. O’Connor was born in 1925...

(The entire section is 402 words.)

Flannery O'Connor Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Born on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia, Mary Flannery O’Connor was the only child of Edwin Francis and Regina Cline O’Connor. She...

(The entire section is 397 words.)