Flannery O'Connor's body gave out before her creativity did.
In 1964, she had an operation to remove a tumor caused by her lupus. It didn't go well, and her health declined rapidly over the course of a few months. After spending several days in a coma, Flannery O'Connor died on August 3rd, 1964 at the Baldwin County Hospital. She was thirty-nine years old. She was buried next to her father, who had died twenty-three years earlier of the same disease.
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 contains some of her finest work. Never short on awards, 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 her work gleam all the more brightly. "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."
But it is perhaps her favorite companions who put it best: "bawk bawk bah-GAWK bawk bah-GAWK GAWK bawk bawk."
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?