Flannery O'Connor Additional Biography


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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Author Profile

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,...

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(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.


(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,...

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20th Century Biography

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...

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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 short stories, two novels, and some speeches and letters. Her major collections of short stories are The Life You Save May Be Your Own, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Everything That Rises Must Converge. All of her stories are influenced by her Southern background and her devout Roman Catholic beliefs; O’Connor frequently developed her plots and characters around themes of redemption and grace.

Many of O’Connor’s stories offer a wry wit, and she showed this in conversation as well. As a child she was in the local newspapers when a chicken she owned could walk backwards. She later said in an interview, “That was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. It’s all been downhill from there.”


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, together with the constant awareness of her own impending death, affected the themes of her stories, many of which address death, salvation, and grace, as well as violence and evil as forces for good. However, O’Connor’s stories often offer a wry wit too, which she uses in satirizing characters that think they know a great deal but still cannot recognize a truth obvious to persons with less intellect or education. She was not above self-deprecation, either, once recalling that as a child she was in the local newspapers when a chicken she owned walked backwards. She later said in an interview, “That was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. It’s all been downhill from there.”


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....

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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...

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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...

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

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

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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...

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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...

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