GCSU going all out for O'Connor's 99th birthday


Flannery O'Connor, Milledgeville's most famous daughter and Georgia College & State University's most prominent alum, would've turned 99 on Monday.

As such, the university is celebrating the occasion over the course of multiple days. GCSU took over operations at Andalusia, the O'Connor family home, in 2017 and subsequently has made a number of investments around the property.


"First settled in 1814, Andalusia was a cotton plantation and farm until it was purchased by Flannery’s uncle, Dr. Bernard Cline in 1931. During the O’Connor’s residency, the site contained 14 buildings with over 520 acres of land that was used for dairy and beef farming. Following a diagnosis of Lupus in 1951 at just 25 years old, Flannery moved to Andalusia to live under the care of her mother, Regina Cline O’Connor. During the 13 years she lived at Andalusia, she completed her 2 novels and 32 short stories centered around the American southern gothic genre. The farm’s environment influenced the setting of many of her writings and the people of Milledgeville often inspired her characters.

Following her death in 1964, the farm remained in the care of the family until 2003 when it was given to a private foundation for use as a museum. In August 2017, the site was gifted to O’Connor’s alma mater, Georgia College & State University. Today, Andalusia serves as a museum whose mission is to care for, collect, interpret, and exhibit items that illustrate the history of the site during the time which Flannery O’Connor lived on the property (1951-1964)."


Here are the plans:

  • Thursday, March 21 Georgia College & State University’s Flannery O’Connor Institute for the Humanities will hold a Zoom discussion on Flannery O’Connor’s letters, written in 1961-62, pages 425-503 in “The Habit of Being.” The discussion will be led by Dr. Bruce Gentry. To register, please visit https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/6feb401e7a134cd4ad404e534d0dfd5c. For more information, please contact Tammie Burke at tammie.burke@gcsu.edu or by calling 478-445-2645.
  • Saturday, March 23 The great Southern author Mary “Flannery” O’Connor, ’45, would’ve turned 99 on Monday, March 25. Georgia College & State University celebrates her birthday Saturday, March 23. The university will hold free tours at Andalusia from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and a cake cutting at noon. A new exhibit at the Andalusia Interpretive Center will also debut that day.
  • Monday, March 25 As part of Flannery O’Connor’s 99th birthday celebration, Georgia College & State University is holding a Zoom discussion (passcode: 054421) about O’Connor and her uncle, the late Louis Cline, at 7 p.m. Monday, March 25. Family members attending the session include Louis’ niece Frances Florencourt, who knew Louis the longest, as well as O’Connor’s cousins Jack Tarleton, Mark Cline and Mary Anne Murray. To join in, please visit https://gcsu.zoom.us/j/98867030630?pwd=dENEdlhUaUtnMktMYjhGSUlCOG1XZz09#success. For more information, call 478-445-8722.

Interest in O'Connor more recently has increased on account of the film Wildcat. The movie most likely fits the bill of a biopic, although a healthy chunk of Wildcat is cut-away scenes from various O'Connor short stories. The movie is set to be released in theatres on May 3.

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None of the movie was filmed here in Baldwin County or anywhere else in Georgia, for that matter, and principal photography took place in Kentucky, primarily Louisville. Wildcat, according to its IMDB page, "follows the life of writer Flannery O'Connor while she was struggling to publish her first novel," a period of time when O'Connor was in her mid 20s and several years removed from graduating from Georgia State College for Women, now Georgia College & State University. Also around this time is when O'Connor is diagnosed with lupus, the medical condition that claimed the life of her father when she was 15.

The movie has rekindled discussions on O'Connor's seemingly complicated views on race, although it's a subject that's nothing new. Alice Walker, the renowned author of The Color Purple who grew up right up the road in Putnam County, actually penned an essay on the topic back in 1970.

“Essential O’Connor is not about racism at all, which is why it is so refreshing, coming, as it does, out of such a racial culture. If it can be said to be ‘about’ anything, then it is ‘about’ prophets and prophecy, ‘about’ revelation, and ‘about’ the impact of supernatural grace on human beings who don’t have a chance of spiritual growth without it," wrote Walker. "She destroyed the last vestiges of sentimentality in white Southern writing; she caused white women to look ridiculous on pedestals, and she approached her black characters — as a mature artist — with unusual humility and restraint. She also cast spells and worked magic with the written word. The magic, the wit, and the mystery of Flannery O’Connor I know I will always love.”

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