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SAVANNAH: FLANNERY O'CONNOR

Flannery O'ConnorThere won't be any biographies of me because, for only one reason, lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy. Flannery O'Connor

St. John the Baptist Cathedral, attended by the O'Connor familyFlannery O'Connor's biography begins on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, a colonial seaport draped with incomparable beauty. The Savannah chapter of O'Connor's childhood, spent in a Lafayette Square house just one block over from St. John the Baptist Cathedral, provided the cornerstone of her Catholic faith. She called Savannah "a colony of the Over-Irish" and her ancestry included two of Georgia's oldest Catholic families, the O'Connors of Savannah and the Clines of middle Georgia. When illness overtook the writer in 1950, O'Connor moved to Andalusia Farm where her gifts as a writer flourished as she - famously - raised peacocks. Her "chicken yard" in Milledgeville and her childhood home in Savannah have attracted more biographers and admirers than she could have imagined.

As a child, Mary Flannery O'Connor illustrated chickens, "the same chicken over and over," and she wrote "occasional verse." Her artwork was probably inspired by the ducks and chickens, Flannery's pets, kept in the backyard of the Savannah row house. O'Connor believed that her father Edward "toted" copies of her drawings in his pocket. She also fulfilled his dream to be a writer. Childhood friends of Mary Flannery recalled that she liked to read. And she was an unforgiving literary critic.

  O'Connor Childhood Home (left) A young Flannery O'Connor with her book Marker for childhood home of O'Connor  
 

O'Connor Childhood Home (left)

A young Flannery O'Connor with her book

Historical marker for childhood home

 

Mary Flannery noted her critiques directly on the leaves of her childhood books. For Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, she skewered Lewis Carroll with a succinct review: Awful. I wouldn't read this book. The note on Shirley Watkins's Georgina Finds Herself was even harsher: This is the worst book I ever read next to “Pinnochio”. Little Men survived Mary Flannery's scrutiny with its dignity intact: First rate, splendid.

  Savannah Tour Carriage Forsyth Park Fountain Statue of Revolutionary War hero Sgt. William Jasper, Madison Square  
 

Savannah Carriage Tour

Forsyth Park Fountain

Statue of Revolutionary War hero Sgt. William
Jasper in Madison Square

 

Though she was an only child, Mary Flannery enjoyed the comforts of belonging to a large extended family. She enjoyed trips with her mother Regina Cline O'Connor to Milledgeville during summers when she got to know her Cline relatives. At age ten, she wrote and illustrated a book, My Relatives, about her large family. In an essay entitled The Nature and Aim of Fiction, the older O'Connor observed that a writer who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.

  Green-Meldrim House, where Sherman ended his march to the sea Flannery O'Connor Hamilton Turner House  
  Green-Meldrim House, where Sherman ended his march to the sea Flannery O'Connor

Hamilton Turner House

 

The Savannah childhood home of Flannery O'Connor at 207 East Charlton Street was eventually deeded to her. At the time of her death in 1964, she still owned the house in Savannah. Today visitors to the house see furnishings that include Mary Flannery's baby carriage, her cradle and bedroom furniture.

  Canon in Madison Square Mercer Williams House, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Tritons in Forsyth Park Fountain  
 

Cannon in Madison Square

Mercer Williams House, featured in
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Tritons in Forsyth Park Fountain

 

 

  New Georgia Encyclopedia

For more information on Flannery O’Connor, link here to their listing in the New Georgia Encyclopedia supported by the Georgia Humanities Council.

> Flannery O’Connor

 
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