University of Maryland

Archives and Manuscripts Department

College Park, MD

Collection: Katherine Anne Porter Papers

Arrangement: Letters to and from Flannery O’Connor can be found in Series I, Sub-series 4, in “Box 34,” “Folder 2,” which is entitled “Flannery O’Connor 1958-1965.”

Katherine Anne Porter was a southern writer known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning Collected Short Stories and her best selling novel, Ship of Fools. Porter and O’Connor met in person on two occasions as they traveled the country for their respective speaking engagements. They first met in March 1958 when Tom and Louise Gossett brought Porter to Andalusia, and saw each other again in the fall of 1960 when both were guests at an Arts Festival at Wesleyan College in Macon (HB 275, 416).

The Papers of Katherine Anne Porter contain four letters from O’Connor and four from Porter dating April 1958 to November 1963. There is also a draft of a letter from Porter that was rewritten and incorporated into a longer letter she eventually sent to O’Connor. Porter’s letters to O’Connor are encouraging. She mentions reviews she has read of O’Connor’s work, a conversation she had with Eudora Welty about O’Connor, and asks if she can use “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” in a collection of short stories on which she was working. Porter also mentions finishing and publishing her novel, Ship of Fools, and her pride in having faithful readers (whom she believes O’Connor also has).

Porter also discusses her thoughts on translations, learning foreign languages, and her impressions of Paris, where she was living in 1963.

O’Connor writes to Porter about her trip to Rome, and her feelings about the religious trinkets for sale there. O’Connor mentions that she has read Ship of Fools and admires the work. She also describes an experience she had with a photographer from Jubilee, who came to photograph her at Andalusia. O’Connor lists institutions at which she is planning to lecture and read “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” in 1963. Both writers discuss the memories of their first meeting at Andalusia and O’Connor’s collection of peacocks.

The Porter papers also include a clipping of O’Connor’s obituary and several clippings of reviews of O’Connor’s works. There are also notes between Porter and Regina O’Connor. The first is from Porter after O’Connor’s death, in which she expresses her sympathy and her admiration for O’Connor. Both Porter and Regina O’Connor discuss their memories of Porter’s visit to Andalusia.