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Mary Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of Edward F. O’Connor and Regina Cline. O’Connor described herself as a “pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex.” Her father was diagnosed with lupus in 1939 and the family moved away from Savannah. He passed away on February 1, 1941 when Flannery was 15-years-old.


O’Connor attended the Peabody Laboratory School, from which she graduated in 1942.  She entered Georgia State College for Women in an accelerated three-year program and graduated in June 1945 with a Social Sciences and English degree.  In 1946, she was accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa on a journalism scholarship with the intention of being a professional cartoonist. After only one semester as a journalism scholar, she switched to seek out her masters in Creative Writing. While there, she wrote her first published short story: "The Geranium." 


In 1951, she was diagnosed with disseminated lupus, and subsequently returned to Georgia, settling at her mother's family farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville.  Although expected to live only five more years, she managed thirteen. At Andalusia, she raised and nurtured some 100 peafowl.  She describes her peacocks in an essay entitled “The King of Birds.”  Despite her sheltered life, her writing reveals an uncanny grasp of the nuances of human behavior. She was a devout Catholic.  She collected books on Catholic theology and at times gave lectures on faith and literature, traveling quite far despite her frail health.  She also maintained a wide correspondence, including such famous writers as Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop.  She never married, relying for companionship on her correspondence and on her close relationship with her mother, Regina Cline O’Connor.


O’Connor completed more than two-dozen short stories and two novels while battling lupus.  She died on August 3, 1964, at the age of 39 of complications from lupus at Baldwin County Hospital. She is buried in Milledgeville, Georgia, at Memory Hill Cemetery. 

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