June 6th, 2007

Loyola Faculty Portrait

Theological Notebook: New Flannery O'Connor Letters Made Public

Fellow Saint Joseph's High School teacher P.J. McCurry introduced his students (and, indirectly, me) to Flannery O'Connor's writing as an occasion for reflection in his Ethics class. So, from his influence, this caught my eye....

Flannery O'Connor's letters draw biographers and fans to university
Dorie Turner
Canadian Press
Wednesday, June 06, 2007

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - They don't seem like much at first glance, the two boxes of yellowing letters sitting amid the shelves of aged leather-bound volumes.

But the 274 epistles have unlocked two decades' worth of mysteries about the years of correspondence between author Flannery O'Connor and longtime friend, Elizabeth (Betty) Hester.

A steady stream of O'Connor biographers and a few fans have wandered into Emory University's special collections library over the last few weeks to read the letters, which were unsealed in mid-May after 20 years. Hester donated them to Emory in 1987 with the stipulation that they remain closed to the public for that long.

"The idea of reading new letters of Flannery O'Connor is amazing," said Brad Gooch, who has been working on a biography about the Georgia native for four years. "It creates a timeline, a picture in your head of what it was like."

The letters begin in 1955 when Hester, a file clerk in Atlanta, wrote to O'Connor, by that time living in Milledgeville, about her stories. O'Connor immediately responded, writing that though the two were separated by 140 kilometres, "I feel the spiritual distance is shorter."

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