(1925 – 1964)
Mary Flannery O’Connor (Savannah, GA, USA, March 25, 1925 – Milledgeville, GA, USA, August 3, 1964) was an American writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O’Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a style commonly termed Southern Gothic and relied heavily on regional settings and characters considered “grotesque” by others; a view on which O’Connor herself commented in the essay The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, however, that “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.” O’Connor’s writing also reflected her own Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics.
In 1951, like her father, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, and subsequently returned to her ancestral farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville, Georgia. Although expected to live only five more years, she managed fourteen, completing more than two dozen short stories and two novels while battling the illness, from which she finally died at the age of 39 years.
Her Complete Stories posthumously won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and was named the “Best of the National Book Awards” by internet visitors in 2009. O’Connor was the first fiction writer born in the twentieth century to have her works collected and published by the Library of America.
Major Awards and Honors
National Book Awards (USA)
- 1972: Fiction – “The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor”
O. Henry Award for Short Fiction (USA)
- 1954: First Prize – “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” (published in The Kenyon Review)
- 1955: Second Prize – “A Circle in the Fire” (published in The Kenyon Review)
- 1957: First Prize – “Greenleaf” (published in The Kenyon Review)
- 1959: First Prize – “A View of the Woods” (published in Partisan Review)
- 1963: First Prize – “Everything That Rises Must Converge” (published in New World Writing)
- 1964: First Prize – “Revelation” (published in Sewanee Review)
- Wise Blood (1952)
- The Violent Bear It Away (1960)
Short Story Collections
- The Geranium: A Collection of Short Stories (1947)
– Master’s thesis, University of Iowa Fine Arts Program.
- An Afternoon in the Woods (1954)
– Stand-alone story.
- A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1955)
- The Partridge Festival (1961)
– Stand-alone story.
- Why Do the Heathen Rage? (1963)
– Stand-alone story.
- Everything that Rises Must Converge and Other Stories (1965)
- Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Short Stories (1971)
– Published posthumously.
Essays and other Occasional Prose
- The Fiction Writer and His Country (1957)
- The Church and the Fiction Writer (1957)
- Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction (1960)
- Introduction to “A Memoir of Mary Ann” (1961)
- The King of the Birds (1961)
- The Regional Writer (1963)
- Fiction Is a Subject With a History – It Should be Taught That Way (1963)
- The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South (1963)
- Mystery and Manners (1970)
Correspondence and Conversations
- The Habit of Being (1979)
- Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews (1983)
- Correspondence of Flannery O’Connor and the Brainard Cheneys (1986)
- Conversations With Flannery O’Connor (1987)
A Selection of Quotes
“In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.”
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
“Mrs. Hopewell had no bad qualities of her own but she was able to use other people’s in such a constructive way that she never felt the lack.”
The Habit of Being: Letters
“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
“I do not like the raw sound of the human voice in unison unless it is under the discipline of music.”
Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
– The Nature and Aim of Fiction
“[A]nybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”
– Some Aspects of The Grotesque in Southern Fiction
“[A]nything 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.”
– On Her Own Work
“Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.”
Conversations With Flannery O’Connor (Rosemary M. Magee, ed., 1987)
“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”
Find more quotes by Flannery O’Connor on Goodreads.
- Flannery O’Connor’s Macmillan Publishers author page
- The Flannery O’Connor Collection at Georgia College
- Andalusia Farm (Milledgeville, GA)
- The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home (Savannah, GA)
- The Flannery O’Connor Society
- The Flannery O’Connor Repository (unofficial site)
- Flannery O’Connor’s profile at Know Southern History.net
- Flannery O’Connor’s biography at the Kirjasto Authors’ Calendar
- Flannery O’Connor at Britannica.com
- PBS American Masters: Flannery O’Connor
- Reviews and blog posts related to Flannery O’Connor on this blog, Lioness at Large