NewsmaxEmory Acquires Archives of Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 09:15 PM

By Cathy Burke

Emory University officials announced Tuesday they'd acquired the archives of novelist and short-story writer Flannery O'Connor - including literary drafts, journals, letters and personal effects that previously have only been available to scholars.

Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library acquired the archives from the Mary Flannery O'Connor Charitable Trust in Milledgeville, Ga., the university said.

"It's simply going to open up new territory," William Sessions, an emeritus professor of English at Georgia State University and a friend of O'Connor's, told The New York Times.

The Times reported the collection, which fills more than 30 boxes, was so big, experts believe it'll take some time to evaluate how the trove will impact the study of the author's work.

The collection includes more than 630 letters from O'Connor to her mother, Regina Cline O'Connor.

The new collection will complement the existing works at Georgia College in Milledgeville, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. Included in that collection are manuscripts for O'Connor's two novels and most of her short stories.

O'Connor attended the school when it was known as the Georgia State College for Women and lived with her mother on a farm outside Milledgeville for 13 years, after she learned she had lupus, the autoimmune disease that eventually killed her in 1964 at age 39.

In an interview last week, Louise Florencourt, O'Connor's cousin and trustee of the estate, told the Times the fate of the collection had been complicated earlier by the death of O'Connor's mother in 1995 at age 99 - since she thought some of the letters weren't suitable for publication.

"I went back and forth on that and came down on the side of them being available," Florencourt told the Times.

"Because I thought that Flannery should be seen as whole as could be made possible. She's not here to speak for herself. So everything that I know of that she wrote has to speak for her."

Among other honors, O'Connor posthumously won the 1972 National Book Award in the fiction category for "The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor."

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who directs Emory's creative writing program, said O'Connor's work influenced her own growth as a writer.

On Nov. 2, O'Connor will be inducted into the American Poets Corner at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, alongside writers including Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, the Times reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.