Study Guide

Flannery O'Connor Biography

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Flannery O'Connor died in 1964 at the age of thirty-nine. For years after her untimely death, the myth surrounding O'Connor was that she had been a shy, eccentric recluse confined to a rural farm in Georgia. 

Weird. There's a similar myth surrounding the employees of Shmoop. It's preposterous, of course. A rural farm? Please.

We live in a rock cave with an old man named Shark Tooth. 

Flannery however did spend the last third of her life on her mother's farm. She suffered from a debilitating form of lupus that made it difficult to care for herself, but even though she was farm-bound, she found ways to enjoy life. We're pretty sure you all know what we're talking about, but we'll spell it out, just in case...

She raised chickens and peacocks for fun. 

...Oh, you thought we were going to talk about her writing? Well, too bad. It's peacock time.

Flannery O'Connor's interest in peacocks started in 1952, when she purchased a peacock and peahen by mail. From then on, she...

...Okay, fine, we'll talk about her writing. It's not as fun as peacock farming, but whatever floats your boat.

"Miss O'Connor's style is tight to choking and as direct and uncompounded as the order to a firing squad to shoot a man against a wall," wrote the New York Times when her first novel appeared to critical acclaim in 1952. she once said, sharply rebuking the idea that she deserved special treatment because of her illness.

We think she deserved special treatment because she was one-of-a-kind. She detested Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, and her fellow Southern Gothics. She was uninterested in the Civil Rights Movement or politics. When she painted her self-portrait, she included her favorite peacock. 

There was no one quite like Flannery O'Connor, and there hasn't been anyone like her since.

To be fair, that's not always a good thing. There's no one else like Shark Tooth, and that's probably for the best.







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