Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA

Collection: Flannery O’Connor Papers 1932-2003.

Collection ID: MSS#59.

Arrangement: The Flannery O’Connor Papers consist of materials donated to or purchased by the Emory University Library. The majority of “Box 1” contains correspondence, while “Box 2” contains clippings and articles. The papers and correspondence in this collection are organized first by correspondent and then arranged chronologically.

Box 1

Folder 1 - Helen Soul, ca. 1937

Folder 2 - Dora Byron, 1962

Folder 3 - “On the Significance of Being a Georgia Author,” ca. 1956

Folder 4-5 - Frank Daniel, 1962

Folder 6-8 - Marvin Whiting, 1964

Folder 9 - “How the Writer Writes” (untitled speech), no date

Folder 10 - “The Problem with the Southern Writer” (untitled speech), no date

Folder 11-12 - David Estes, 1963

Folder 13-20 - Joel Wells, 1957-1964

Folder 21-36 - Fred Darsey, 1955-1962

Folder 37 - J.L. Mazzaro, 1963

Folder 38 - “The Partridge Festival,” no date

Box 2

Folder 1 - “Stories by Flannery O'Connor”

Folder 2 - “Clippings re: Death and Funeral of O'Connor”

Folder 3 - “Reviews”

Folder 4 - “Published Letters”

Folder 5 - “Sally Fitzgerald”

Folder 6 - “Wise Blood”

Folder 7 - “Other Clippings”

Flannery O’Connor, as a young girl, stayed with relatives in Atlanta one summer while she took a summer reading course at the Atlanta Public Library and met Helen Soul at that time. Helen Soul was a friend of Regina Cline O’Connor, as noted in an enclosure in the O’Connor-Soul correspondence. O’Connor’s letter to Helen Soul is a handwritten note, thanking her for letting O’Connor “read those books.” The letter, which is believed to be dated around 1937, mentions that Regina will write to Soul at a later time. A letter to Regina Cline O’Connor from Soul is also included in the folder.

There is a single letter to O’Connor from Dora Byron and one from O’Connor to Byron in this collection. Both are dated July 1962. Byron asks O’Connor to appear on a television program at Emory University in which she would be interviewed for ten to fifteen minutes. O’Connor declines Byron's invitation in the second letter, saying she would rather be heard than seen.

Frank Daniel was a writer and critic for the Atlanta Journal. While writing for the newspaper, he corresponded with a variety of American writers and southern authors. A complete collection of his papers is held at the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Follow this link to the University of Georgia section for more information.

Emory holds a letter O’Connor wrote to Daniel on August 28, 1962, informing him that she had given his name to Robert Jiras, who was making a film of her story “The River.” She believed Daniel would be able to show Jiras several locations in Atlanta that would be suitable for shooting the movie. She also mentions in the letter that she appreciated the review he wrote of Wise Blood.

Marvin Whiting was a teacher at The Lovett School in Atlanta who wrote to O’Connor from March through May, 1964. This collection contains two letters from O’Connor and two from Whiting. Whiting asks if he and his ninth-grade class could visit O’Connor at Andalusia to discuss A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Wise Blood. O'Connor invites the class to visit Andalusia on May 7, 1964, but later cancels the meeting due to poor health.

David Estes was Chief of Special Collections at Emory when he corresponded with O’Connor. The collection contains two letters from O’Connor to Estes and two letters from Estes to O’Connor from June and July 1963. In his letter, Estes describes the materials in Emory’s Special Collection and asks if he could visit her to discuss the possibility of adding her papers to Emory’s collection. O’Connor responds with an invitation and mentions that she tears up the versions of her stories she does not use. The remainder of the correspondence involves setting up the details of the visit.

Joel Wells was Director of Advertising and Promotion for The Critic (a Catholic magazine) when O’Connor wrote to him between August 1957 and April 1964. In one of her final letters, O’Connor congratulates him on his appointment as editor.

In O’Connor's eight letters to Wells she remarks that she dislikes James Cozzens’s book By Love Possessed and discusses some of the reviews it received. O’Connor also comments that one of her interviews published in The Critic “came out very well.” She thanks Wells for sending her a book by James Powers and mentions a review it received in the Atlanta Constitution.

Fred Darsey lived in New York City and apparently shared an interest in birds with O’Connor. O’Connor’s sixteen letters to Darsey date from March 1955 to August 1962 with her final letter being the only one addressed to “Fred and Barbara.” O’Connor wrote to Darsey about details of her trip to New York City for the filming of her interview with Harvey Breit, her spiritual beliefs, talks she gave in Atlanta, and her peafowl. In addition, she devoted an entire letter to criticism of a short story Darsey had written and sent to her. O’Connor enclosed a clipping in one letter which reported that a ten-year-old boy in New Jersey tried to buy a ticket at a bus station so he could run away from home.

J.L. Mazzaro worked for Esquire magazine, which published O’Connor’s “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” in July 1963. O'Connor wrote to Mazzaro in August 1963 stating that she would be able to write another story for Esquire based upon “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” if they could pay her $150 for the story.

Other papers included in “Box 1” are clippings and articles about O’Connor’s life and her work. The clippings files are incomplete but provide insight to scholars. “Folder 9” contains an untitled typescript based on O’Connor’s published essay, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” which includes O’Connor’s handwritten corrections. “Folder 10” includes an untitled typescript of a speech O’Connor gave at Birmingham-Southern College that contains some of the statements in O’Connor’s published essay, “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction.”

Collection: Madison Jones Papers 1950-1989.

Collection ID: MSS# 684.

Arrangement: The Jones Papers are arranged alphabetically by subject or name. The O’Connor letters are found under, “O’Connor, Flannery – Correspondence” in “Box 12,” “Folder #11.”

Madison Jones is a southern writer who taught English at MiamiUniversity, the University of Tennessee, and AuburnUniversity (“Jones”). He corresponded with O’Connor and spoke with her on a guest panel at an Arts Festival at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, in 1960 (CW 1134). O’Connor read and liked Jones’s novels and commented on them throughout her correspondence.

There are two letters in the Jones collection from O’Connor, both dated July 13, 1963. The first is a letter O’Connor sent to Jones complimenting him for his novel A Buried Land. The second is a copy of a letter O’Connor sent to Denver Lindley at the Viking Press in which she mentions she has read A Buried Land and thinks it is a “fine novel.”

Collection: Letters to Betty Hester 1955-1964

This collection was opened on May 12, 2007 and have not been reviewed by the authors of this website.

Flannery O’Connor and Betty Hester became acquainted when Hester wrote to O’Connor in the summer of 1955 offering her perspective of O’Connor’s work. O’Connor responded that she was pleased with Hester’s interpretation of her writing. The two corresponded regularly, and Hester made frequent trips to Andalusia.

O’Connor and Hester shared many things, including a love for reading and writing. Although none of her stories was ever published, Hester shared her writing with O’Connor. Both she and O’Connor contributed non-fiction to a Catholic diocesan publication, The Bulletin. Hester, known as “A” in The Habit of Being, took her own life in 1998 after a long battle with depression.

There are approximately 250 letters from Flannery O’Connor to Betty Hester, with portions of 197 published in The Habit of Being. The collection was opened to scholars in May 2007.