Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Flannery O'Connor named for? Mary Flannery O'Connor was named in honor of Captain John Flannery and his wife, Mary Norton Flannery. Captain Flannery immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1851 and, after serving in the Civil War, worked as a banker, railroad director, and cotton broker. One of the founding members of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Captain Flannery was also the father of O'Connor's cousin, Katie Semmes.

Did O'Connor have any brothers or sisters?  No. Born on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia, Mary Flannery O’Connor was the only child of Edward and Regina Cline O’Connor.

Where did Flannery O'Connor attend school and college? O'Connor attended St. Vincent's Grammar School and Sacred Heart Parochial School in Savannah; St. Joseph's Parochial School and North Fulton High School in Atlanta; Peabody High School and Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College) in Milledgeville; and the State University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Did O'Connor ever marry?  No.  Biographers have concluded that O'Connor had a brief romance with a textbook salesman named Eric Langkjaer in the early 1950s; nevertheless, she remained single her whole life.
What kind of books did Flannery O’Connor write?  O’Connor wrote two novels and two collections of short stories.  Because she is absolutely unique in American literature, her writing defies easy categorization.  She is sometimes characterized as a writer of gothic, grotesque tales, but that label is as misleading as it is helpful. It is clear to most scholars and critics that Christian themes are central to O'Connor's fiction, which distinguishes her from most American writers, especially those from the South.
How old is Andalusia?  The farm began its life as a 1,700-acre plantation in the early nineteenth century.  The main house was built in the late 1850s.  The oldest extant structure on the property, however, is the Hill house where the hired farm hands lived during the 1950s and 1960s when O'Connor was at Andalusia.

When did the O’Connor family acquire Andalusia? The farm was purchased in the early 1930s by Flannery O'Connor’s uncle, Bernard Cline.  Dr. Cline was a prominent physician in Atlanta and initially bought the farm as a weekend getaway as well as a place where he could raise horses and entertain. Upon his death in 1947, he left the farm in joint ownership to one of his sisters, Regina Cline O'Connor, and one of his brothers, Louis Cline. After Louis Cline died in 1973, Regina Cline O'Connor became the sole owner of the farm.

Why is the farm called Andalusia? In the fall of 1946, before the death of Dr. Bernard Cline, Flannery O'Connor met on a bus to Atlanta a descendant of the original Hawkins family that owned Andalusia. It was this descendant who told her that the original name of the place in the nineteenth century was Andalusia. She wrote her mother, and when her Uncle Bernard heard of it, he was pleased and liked the name. From then on the name was Andalusia.

What was the disease that ultimately took O'Connor's life? Flannery O'Connor suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus, the same disease that took the life of her father, Edward O'Connor, when Flannery was 15 years old. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Learn more about the disease from the Lupus Foundation of America.

Did Flannery O'Connor die at home?
  No.  After being rushed to Baldwin County Hospital on July 29, 1964, O'Connor slipped into a coma, and succumbed to kidney failure shortly after midnight on August 3.  She was 39 years old.

When did Flannery O’Connor start raising peacocks?  O'Connor acquired her first birds – a peacock, a peahen, and four seven-week-old peabiddies – in October, 1952.  What started as a hobby became an obsession.  In time, she would have as many as fifty peafowl at Andalusia.  O’Connor was utterly fascinated with these birds. She mentions her birds in many of her published letters, and peacocks appear in her short story "The Displaced Person." They are also the subject of one of her best-known essays "The King of the Birds."

What happened to Flannery O'Connor's peacocks? None of the descendants of O'Connor's domestic flock has survived at the farm. Regina Cline O'Connor gave two pair of peafowl to Stone Mountain Park outside of Atlanta, one pair to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta, and another pair to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit near Conyers, Georgia. In 2009 a peacock aviary was built to house Andalusia's new peafowl.

Where are Flannery O’Connor’s books?  Regina Cline O'Connor donated the majority of O’Connor’s extensive library to Georgia College in the early 1970s.  Some of her books are on display in the Flannery O’Connor Room in the GCSU Museum on the Georgia College campus.  The majority, however, are housed in Special Collections at the Georgia College Library and Instructional Technology Center. 

What is upstairs at Andalusia?  There are two guest rooms and a bathroom upstairs in the main house.  Before the back parlor was built in 1959, guests visiting Andalusia would stay in one of the upstairs rooms.  Among the notable guests that spent the night at Andalusia was Robert Giroux, O’Connor’s editor. 

Did any famous writers visit Andalusia?  Katherine Anne Porter, Caroline Gordon, Miller Williams, James Dickey, and others came out to Andalusia in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Whose bedroom was in the back parlor at Andalusia?  The back parlor of the house was built in 1959 for Flannery O'Connor’s uncle, Louis Cline.  Uncle Louis, who worked for the King Hardware Co. in Atlanta and co-owned Andalusia with Regina Cline O’Connor, was a frequent visitor on the weekends.  In the days before air conditioning, this room provided him with a much more comfortable place to stay, especially during the summer. 

Is O'Connor’s self-portrait still in the main house at Andalusia?  The portrait Flannery O'Connor painted of herself with a pheasant (not a peacock as many frequently assume) is held by the Estate of Regina Cline O'Connor and is not part of the collection at Andalusia. 

Whose portrait is in O'Connor’s bedroom?  The painting is of Louise Hill.  Louise and her husband, Jack, were the hired farm hands that lived in the house on the other side of the driveway behind the main house.  Jack ran the dairy operation for Regina Cline O’Connor and Louise helped out doing other chores.  The oil portrait was painted by a friend of O'Connor’s, Robert Hood, in the early 1960s. Robert and his wife, Deen (who, like O'Connor, had lupus), lived in St. Augustine, Florida, and were occasional guests at Andalusia. By some accounts, O'Connor kept the portrait on display in her room.

What were the other rooms in the house used for?  The room which is used as an office for the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation was Regina Cline O’Connor’s bedroom.  The gift shop area was at one time the business office for the dairy farm.

What is the animal carved on the façade of the sideboard in the dining room?
 The sideboard features a wild boar hanging upside down, not an opposum as some visitors mistakenly assume. 

Who played the piano that is now in the gift shop?  While not the most accomplished musician in the world, Flannery O’Connor took piano lessons both as a child and as a young adult.  The piano visitors see is the very one O'Connor practiced on. 

Who made the quilt on display in the gift shop?
  It was made by Mary Barbara Tate, who was a friend to both Regina and Flannery O'Connor. The patchwork quilt features familiar elements from O’Connor’s stories and from Andalusia. 

Was the dining room used for any other purpose?  Yes. When the O’Connor’s entertained visitors, they would often show them into the dining room, which also functioned as the family’s formal living room.  It was in that room that a weekly reading group met from 1957-60 to discuss theology in modern literature.  O'Connor hosted this group and during one meeting read aloud her story “The Enduring Chill.”

What was the smaller barn behind the backyard used for?  We believe this structure was used as a calving barn, to separate the calves from the milking cows. 

Besides cattle, what other livestock were kept on the farm?  While it is sometimes assumed that the O’Connors raised hogs at Andalusia (on the basis of O'Connor’s short story "Revelation"), the only livestock on the farm were cows, ponies, horses, and donkeys.

Who gave Flannery O’Connor the phonograph in her room?  The record player on display was given to O’Connor in December 1963 by the nuns at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta.  The sisters also gave O'Connor a television (no longer part of the collection at Andalusia) and the inscribed bronze crucifix on the wall as thank-you gifts for helping them get their book, A Memoir of Mary Ann, published.

Are those Flannery O'Connor’s records beneath the phonograph?  Yes. O'Connor received the records as gifts from her friend, Thomas Stritch. The albums feature the music of such composers as Haydn, Schubert, and Scarlatti.  O’Connor claimed that she had a tin ear.  She said that all classical music sounded the same to her, and everything else sounded like the Beatles. 

Why is there linoleum flooring beneath O'Connor's writing desk? The desk chair that visitors to Andalusia see in O'Connor's bedroom is not the one she used. Her mother donated that piece -- a stenographer's chair -- (along with the desk and typewriter) to Georgia College in the early 1970s. Since the chair was on rollers, it was necessary to put down linoleum around the desk over the wooden floors to facilitate movement.

What kind of books did Flannery O’Connor like to read?  Not surprisingly, the majority of her library is devoted to literature, philosophy, and theology.  Those interested in specific titles are encouraged to consult the book, Flannery O’Connor’s Library: Resources of Being, ed. Arthur F. Kinney (The University of Georgia Press, 1985). 

How was the main house at Andalusia heated in the winter and cooled in the summer?  Flannery O'Connor and her mother lived at Andalusia in the days before central air-conditioning; however, O'Connor did purchase a window unit for her room in the early 1960s.  In the summer the majority of the house was cooled by an attic fan.  In winter the house was kept warm with propane gas heaters, much in the same way as it is today. 

What was the purpose of the pond at the bottom of the hill in front of the main house?  This pond, along with several others on the property, is manmade and was constructed to provide a source of water for the cattle. This particular pond is spring-fed and was re-built by the Foundation in 2005 as part of the Dr. Bernard Cline Outdoor Learning Center at Andalusia.

What is the story about the refrigerator?  The Hotpoint refrigerator/freezer that visitors see in the kitchen in the main house was purchased by Flannery O'Connor in 1956 after she sold the TV rights to her short story “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.”  The movie was produced by the Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars and released in 1957.  Featuring Gene Kelly and Agnes Morehead in the leading roles, this production unfortunately took many liberties with O’Connor’s story.

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