This is a part of a series called Literary South, which highlights important literary landmarks and the writers and authors who made them known.
Flannery O’Connor was born Mary Flannery O’Connor on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia. She lived there and went to school until 1938, at which point she briefly moved to Atlanta before relocating to Milledgeville, where her father developed lupus and soon after died. The precocious child was devastated by the loss. She studied at the Georgia College for Women, now Georgia College and State University, and at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop. In 1950, she developed lupus as well and moved home to Milledgeville to the family farm to be cared for by her mother until her death. It was here that she wrote some of her most famous works.
Her family was staunchly Catholic, so religion played a large role in her later stories. Her stories have a certain darkness to them, as she was one of the few women in the Southern Gothic movement. Her first novel, Wise Blood, received mixed reviews at the time of publication but has now become one of her most beloved works, along with her short stories.
She loved the peafowl that lived at her farm in Milledgeville and the symbol has been used on the covers of her books and as a symbol of the writer. There are some still living on the farm today.
Flannery O’Connor Birth Home, Savannah
The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home is where the family lived in Savannah for all of Flannery’s childhood from 1925 to 1938. It was purchased by cousin Katie, who lived down the street. It’s been restored to how it would have looked when the family lived here thanks to generous contributions from director Jerry Bruckheimer.
Andalusia Farm, Milledgeville
Andalusia Farm, located outside of Milledgeville, is the family farm where Flannery spent the last few years of her life and later died. The main house is open for visitors to explore, including the kitchen, dining room and sitting room. You can see her downstairs bedroom, complete with her bed and crutches. Give yourself time to explore the grounds as well, including the peafowl pen and dairy barn.
Flannery O’ Connor Room at GCSU, Milledgeville
At O’Connor’s alma mater, Georgia College, there is the Flannery O’Connor Room, which has artifacts from the author’s life, such as her typewriter and copies of her books. I asked at the desk, but the student had never heard of it, so ask around in the library.
Memorial Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville
After a 1964 surgery to remove a fibroid tumor, her lupus came back and she died after a few days in a coma. She is buried next to her father at Memory Hill Cemetery. From the front gate, it’s on the left, but you can also get directions to the plot from the Memory Hill website.