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Flannery O'Connor

The writings of O'Connor, which consist of two novels and several stories, are strongly set in the American South and colored by this regional flavor. Moreover, O'Connor tended to combine a grotesque or even horrific vision of human nature with a devout Catholic faith. This juxtaposition is likely responsible for the distinctiveness of her works. O'Connor died relatively young as a result of lupus, the disease which also took her father. 


Mary Flannery O’Connor was an American writer and essayist, the author of two novels and thirty two short stories, and an incredibly significant voice in American literature. Born in Georgia in 1925, she graduated from Georgia College & State University in 1945 with a degree in social sciences. She went on to study journalism at the University of Iowa. After being diagnosed with lupus at the age of twenty six, she returned home to her ancestral farm in Georgia where she lived out the next fourteen years of her life caring for her animals and writing her stories. 


Flannery O’Connor was the author of two novels and thirty two short stories. Her first novel, Wide Blood, was published in 1952 and was actually published as two separate stories between 1948 and 1949. In 1952, O’Connor finally published the collective works as a complete novel. Her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away, was published in 1960. The novel is about a boy who is desperate to escape his destiny as a prophet. Though these were her only two novels, O’Connor is also widely recognized for her collections of short stories, such as A Good Man Is Hard to Find, The Complete Stories, and Everything That Rises Must Converge.

Writing Style

Flannery O’Connor was born and died in Georgia. Her southern roots heavily influenced her use of Southern Gothic style and reliance on both grotesque characters and regional settings.  In addition, her writing was noticeably affected by her Roman Catholic faith and she often centered her work around the themes of ethics and morality. Her work always contained strong Christian undertones and a strict, religious view of the world.

From an early age, Flannery O’Connor developed herself a very purposeful and focused sense of direction and style. She was very stubborn when editors would request changes and he demanded that she be the only one to edit her work. 

Additional Information

Flannery O’Connor received her education from the University of Iowa on an academic scholarship in journalism. However, not long into her first term at the university did he feel that perhaps journalism was not the path she wished to take, after all. Instead, she entered the Master’s program for creative writing under Paul Engle, who was the head of the famous Writer’s Workshop. Engle later stated that O’Connor was painfully shy. Besides that, she possessed a nasally southern drawl, so he decided that he would read all her stories aloud himself during workshop classes. He also said, however, that O’Connor was, without a doubt, one of the most gifted writers he had ever taught. Engle was the first person who ever read and edited her first initial drafts of Wise Blood.

Her time spent there gained her connections to countless American writers who passed through Iowa’s prestigious writing program, whether as students or lecturers. Among her impressive list of acquaintances were Andrew Lytle, John Crowe Ransom, Austin Warren, and Robert Penn Warren. Andrew Lytle took particular notice of O’Connor and her obvious talents. As the editor of the Sewanee Review, he published a number of her stories, in addition to many critical essays of her work.


Though her career and life were tragically short, the mark that Flannery O’Connor left on the world has a continuing impact and still garners reverence today. In 1992, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement as an inaugural honoree. Eight years later, n 2000, she was inducted into the Georgie Writers Hall of Fame as a charter member. Evidently, Flannery O’Connor’s work had been an important influence in the world of literature and will continue to be so for years to come.

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