Fiction operates through the senses and I think one reason that people
find it so difficult to write stories is that they forget how much time
and patience is required to convince through the senses."
BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAYMore than thirty years after her death at age thirty-nine,
Flannery O'Connor is considered one of the great writers of the twentieth
century. Although she wrote just two short novels and about thirty stories,
O'Connor's originality set her fiction apart. A Roman Catholic who was
born and raised in the Protestant South, O'Connor wrote mostly about poor,
white Southerners undergoing struggles of faith and belief. Always present
in her stories is a dual sense of evil and divinity, capturing both the
reality of human weakness and the redemptive power of God's grace. O'Connor'
s stories, written in simple, unadorned language, portray conflicts experienced
by bizarre, strange, and often deformed characters.
O'Connor was born on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia, the daughter
of Edward Francis O'Connor, a real estate broker, and Regina Cline O'Connor.
She lived in the city until she was thirteen when her parents moved to
Milledgeville, a small farming town. A few years later, her father died
of a disease of the immune system known as lupus erythematosus. After graduating
from Peabody High School in 1942, O'Connor attended Georgia State College
for Women, where she drew illustrations for the school newspaper and yearbook
and edited The Corinthian, a literary magazine. After graduating from Georgia
State (now Georgia College) in 1945, she won a fellowship to the University
of Iowa Writers' Workshop in Iowa City. Her first short story, "The Geranium,"
was published in 1946, the year before she graduated from Iowa with a masters
of fine arts degree. From 1948 to 1949 she lived at Yaddo, a writers colony
located in Saratoga Springs, New York.