Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia.
Considered an important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote 2 novels, 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer in the vein of William Faulkner, often writing in a Southern Gothic style and relying heavily on regional settings and grotesques as characters.
Ms. O'Connor, because of her relatively small literary output, remains a minor writer in the Western canon, but one hugely talented, with much unfulfilled potential due to her early death. She, like many of her characters, was physically deformed.
Her fans often claim that her relative lack of popularity is due primarily to the fact that she was a devout Roman Catholic who wrote extensively on the subject of grace and its less-than-willing recipients, much like Graham Greene. But she was never very popular with Catholics, and still isn't, due to two factors. First, most of her characters were either Protestants or irreligious. Second, and more importantly, her stories were, at least on the surface, about very ugly subjects; O'Connor often saw hints of the divine in murderers, con artists and suicidal children. She often lectured against the tendency of Catholics to confuse saccharine inspirational stories with good fiction, going so far as to criticize the literary talents of Francis Cardinal Spellman.
Her father, Edward O'Connor, was diagnosed with lupus in 1937; he died on the first of February, 1941. Mary Flannery, the couple's only child, was devastated, and rarely spoke of him in later years. Flannery described herself as a "pigeon-toed only child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I'll-bite-you complex."
As a child she was in the local newspapers when a chicken that she owned could walk backwards. She said, "That was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. It's all been downhill from there."
Ms. O'Connor attended Peabody High School, from which she graduated in 1942. She entered Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College & State University), where she majored in English and Sociology, the latter a perspective she satirized effectively in novels such as The Habit Of Being hints at a possible lesbian relationship. O'Connor's suggestion that Catholics have to accept suffering from their Church as well as for it seems to support this allegation