Flannery O'Connor

Portrait of Flannery O'Connor

“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

Flannery O'Connor

Born Mary Flannery O’Connor in Savannah on March 25, 1925, young Flannery moved with her family to Milledgeville at the age of thirteen. Two years later, her father died and the loss had a profound impact on the young O’Connor. As a student at Milledgeville’s Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College and State University), she pursued her love of writing by contributing to numerous campus publications. She went on to graduate school at the University of Iowa and its esteemed writers’ program. O’Connor was accepted at Yaddo, the upstate New York artists’ retreat, where she and the poet Robert Lowell became friends.

O’Connor returned to Milledgeville in 1950, following a diagnosis with lupus. She settled on the family farm known as Andalusia and focused on her writing. In 1952 her first novel Wise Blood, the culmination of several years’ work, was published. Wise Blood was followed by A Good Man in Hard to Find in 1955 and The Violent Bear It Away in 1960. A lifelong Catholic, her works explored spirituality often with dark humor.

Andalusia became her refuge during her later years. She died in Milledgeville in 1964, and Andalusia remains much as it did during her time. Beloved peacocks roam the grounds as they did during O’Connor’s life. Their presence inspired the title of the essay “Beyond the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor” by Alice Walker, another Southern Literary Trail writer who grew up only a few miles away from Andalusia. Andalusia is owned and operated by Georgia College and State University and is open for tours. O’Connor’s childhood home in Savannah at 207 East Charlton Street, is one of the city’s historic landmarks and is open for guide tours.