"Wise Blood" is a 1952 novel by the American author Flannery O'Connor. It was O'Connor's debut novel and was put together from four separate stories that were first published in three different magazines.The novel centers around a young returning army veteran named Hazel Motes who has decided that he is a staunch atheist after the war crushed his faith in God. After he meets a blind … [Read more...]
Mary Flannery O'Connor was born on March 25th, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. The only child of a real estate agent, when she was a young girl she trained a chicken to walk backwards and made the local news as "Little Mary O'Connor and her trained chicken." In 1940, O'Connor and her family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia to live on a farm that is now a museum dedicated to her work. In 1941, O'Connor's father died of lupus. She and her mother continued to live in Milledgeville.
In the early 1940's, O'Connor began working on the school newspaper at her high school. After graduating in 1942, she went on to Georgia State College for Women and graduated three years later with a degree in social sciences. In 1946, she was accepted into a prestigious writer's workshop at the University of Iowa where she had gone to study journalism. While there she made several writer friends who later helped her get a foothold in the industry.
In 1947, she graduated with an MA and began working on her first novel, moving to Saratoga Springs, New York to live in an artist's community. "Wise Blood" was released in 1952 and was met with critical success if not success with the wider public.
That same year, O'Connor was diagnosed with lupus like her father. She returned to her mother's home in Milledgeville and continued to write from there.
In 1960, O'Connor published her other novel "The Violent Bear It Away." She also published two short story collections, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" (1955) and "Everything That Rises Must Converge" (posthumous 1965). Most of O'Connor's stories take place in the south and revolve around deeply flawed characters. Though her work often contained dark themes, O'Connor did not like to think of them as being dark or sarcastic.
O'Connor spent the last 12 years of her life in Milledgeville, living seven years longer than her original diagnosis assumed that she would. In her final years she maintained a very active writing and lecture schedule despite the debilitating effect of the steroid drugs that she was taking for her illness. She raised hundreds of birds including peafowl, ducks, emus and toucans and wrote an essay on her peacocks titled "The King of Birds".
O'Connor died on August 30th, 1964 at the age of 39 in Baldwin County Hospital. Her death was the result of a new attack of lupus following surgery. She is buried in Milledgeville, Georgia.