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Flannery O'Connor: Death

Sadly, Flannery O'Connor's body gave out before her creativity did. In 1964, an operation to remove a tumor caused by her lupus did not go well. Her health declined rapidly over the course of a few months. After spending several days in a coma, Flannery O'Connor died on 3 August 1964 at the Baldwin County Hospital. She was only 39 years old. She was buried the next day next to her father, who had died 23 years earlier of the same disease. (Her mother Regina lived to be 99 years old and died in 1995.)

Before her final illness, O'Connor managed to complete a collection of short stories that was published after her death. Everything That Rises Must Converge turned out to be some of her finest work. She also received a third O. Henry Prize for the short story "Revelation," which had been published the previous spring. In 1971, The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor was published. The posthumous anthology won the National Book Award. The loss of O'Connor at such an early age makes the sharpness of her work gleam all the more. "What we lost when she died is bitter," said critic Walter Clemons in Newsweek. "What we have is astonishing: the stories burn brighter than ever, and strike deeper."15

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