Miss O'Connor Turns 85
Of pens and peafowl on a big day in Milledgeville
2:12 PM, Mar 25, 2010 • By KATHERINE EASTLAND
Today marks the 85th birthday of the novelist and peafowl-enthusiast Flannery O’Connor. To properly celebrate the occasion, the mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia, along with others of the town’s dignitaries just proclaimed March 25th “Flannery O’Connor Day.” (A few decades ago, however, when O'Connor was still living, her books and short-stories shocked and startled so many of the town’s good country people that O’Connor enthusiasts would share her books discreetly in brown paper bags.)
Many make the literary pilgrimage to O'Connor’s Andalusian estate. But those visiting her red-roofed house today will get a slice of peacock birthday cake. Ever since she was a child, O'Connor had a certain liking for birds of all types, even the comely chicken. At age six, she taught one how to walk backwards, and her first drawing was of herself, flying, with a chicken on the ground. Later on in life, she painted this self-portrait with a peacock. It still adorns a room in her Andalusia farm house.
Flannery and two friends
Just this year the good fellows maintaining her house have reintroduced peafowl to the estate. There are two peahens and one peacock. (By Easter, they shall be in full plumage.) Until April 4, you can submit potential names for these three birds. The only rule is that the names must be those of O’Connor’s characters. So, while looking over some of her excellent letters and stories, keep watch for particularly terrific names, and email the folks at Andalusia with your ideas.
Now, to whet your literary appetite, here’s a bit from a letter she wrote about the relationship between the author and fiction writing: