Flannery O’Connor died at Baldwin County Hospital on this day 51 years ago. The staff who work at Andalusia Farm honor her. We feel a particular affection for Flannery the person and unbounded admiration for Flannery the writer.
We are privileged to work at the place that inspired one of the best writers of the 20th century and the place to which visitors come to soak in that same atmosphere. They come to pay homage to both the person and the writer for, as anyone who has read her letters and essays knows, they were two sides of the same coin. Both writer and person were inextricably bound up together into an endlessly fascinating, perplexing, and hilariously funny persona that still lives in people’s hearts and minds.
We are privy here to tears shed over Flannery as they imagine her suffering, smiles of joy as they touch the sink where Flannery washed the meal’s dishes (“Don’t stack the plates cause then I have to wash both sides.”), and laughter as folks recite their favorite lines. That the person is so tied up with the writer is not unique to this historic house museum, home of a literary figure but many people feel a closeness to the writer that I think would make her uncomfortable but also pleased that her work has touched so many people in profound ways.
She said that “Lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy." Still, readers want to soak up as much of Flannery “the person” as they can, and coming to Andalusia Farm is one way to do that. Once here, we try to steer them towards the elements of the farm that connect to her writing: the barn loft, the tractor/murder weapon, the peafowl, the tree line, and the special light here at sunset that does look like fire or blood (with one eye squinted).
Still, Flannery the person is here and people want to know where she wrote, where she ate, who visited, and what the farm operation was like. We do our best while always trying to bring everything back to Flannery the writer who had something to say. Rest in peace Flannery, we are glad to know you.- The Staff at Andalusia Farm – Home of Flannery O’Connor