Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Holiday Treat

If you're still trying to figure out what to serve your guests tomorrow, have we got a great idea for you...the famous salad dressing from the Sanford House, Flannery O'Connor's favorite restaurant. Though the establishment no longer exists, it left an indelible imprint on the culinary memories of many midstaters. The cookbook from which this recipe was taken is available for purchase in our gift shop for $19.95.

Sanford House Dressing

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. fresh onion juice
1 cup Wesson oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (tarragon preferred)

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and vinegar alternately, beating well after each addition. Use an electric mixer. Do not rush. Add onion juice last.

According to the cookbook authors, this is a versatile item that can be used on congealed or fresh fruit salads, as well as tossed fresh vegetable salads. It is also an excellent sauce for cold lamb. Enjoy!

Last, but certainly not least, all of us here at Andalusia wish you and those you love a very merry Christmas.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Andalusia: A Bird Sanctuary

During and since the time Flannery O'Connor lived here, Andalusia has been a haven for birds of all kinds, both domesticated and wild. It is well known that O'Connor bred peafowl at the farm. However, she raised other birds as well - ducks, geese, swans, guinea hens, and quail. There is the tender scene recalled in a letter to Brainard Cheney where O'Connor describes sitting awkwardly at her typewriter, trying to write, while two orphaned baby quail lay chirping in a box beneath her feet. The author admitted that this was somewhat of an inconvenience as "it is interfering with my powers of communication." (The Correspondence of Flannery O'Connor and the Brainard Cheneys, ed. C Ralph Stephens - Jackson: University Press of Mississipi: 1986, p. 36)

O'Connor's birds survived her by a good many years. The last of her peafowl were still roaming the property in the late 1980s. They obviously found that the farm was a safe haven for birds. The same is true today. Dozens of species of birds continue to enjoy the friendly confines of Andalusia, and the farm attracts bird watchers from all over. This morning a flock of seven wild turkeys was spotted foraging peacefully on the front yard. Since hunting is strictly forbidden on the farm's 544 acres, birds and other wildlife enjoy the protection of a wildlife sanctuary.

Our peafowl continue to thrive in spite of the cold, rainy weather. Yesterday morning the male fanned his magnificent tail feathers to the amazement of on-lookers and the obvious delight of the two hens. It was a memorable moment. One can only imagine what this spectacle will be like next spring when he is in full plumage.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cosmetic Work for the Main House

If you visit Andalusia in the coming weeks, there is a good chance that the main house will look somewhat disastrous. The last major work performed on the main house was ten years ago, before the Foundation acquired Andalusia. Thanks to generous gifts from individual donors and a fundraising campaign through the Flannery O'Connor Society, the main house is receiving some much-needed attention from local contractors. Specifically, portions of the exterior wood surfaces are being repaired or replaced as necessary and gutters are being repaired and additional downspouts installed. The whole exterior of the house will then be cleaned and repainted, including the front porch and the roof. Once the work is complete, we fully expect the main house to look better than ever. For more information about the work on the main house and how you can help with the fundraising campaign, check out the News & Events article on the Foundation's website. We would really appreciate your help.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Expanded Hours at Andalusia

Thanks to our new staff member, Mark Jurgensen, the Foundation will soon be able to expand the hours of operation at Andalusia. Beginning in January 2010, Andalusia will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. When it first opened for regular tours in 2004, Andalusia was only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. There were approximately 2,500 visitors to the farm that year. The next year we began opening on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays and seven days a week by advanced appointment, primarily to accommodate group tours. Our visitation has increased every year, and the demand for more open days has become apparent. In 2009, our number of visitors will most likely top 3,700. This year Andalusia has welcomed 25 school classes, 23 college groups, and 17 organizational tour groups including civic clubs, book clubs, and churches. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to Andalusia in 2010, and we hope that YOU will be among them.


Friday, November 20, 2009

And the Winner Is . . .

And the winner is...Flannery O'Connor. On Wednesday night the National Book Foundation announced that The Complete Stories, published in 1971, had been named Best of the National Book Award winners. Beating out such stiff competition as Faulkner, Welty, Ellison, and Cheever, O'Connor was the clear choice of the more than ten thousand readers that participated in the poll. To all those who voted for O'Connor, we say thank you. If you do not already own this splendid collection of short stories, we have copies for sale at the Andalusia gift shop. With Christmas just around the corner, wouldn't The Complete Stories make a great present for the reader on your gift list?

- Mark

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Writing at Andalusia

It is quite fortunate for all concerned that Andalusia is located in the town that is also the home of Georgia's public liberal arts university, Georgia College & State University (GCSU). It is also the institution, earlier called Georgia State College for Women, where Flannery O'Connor earned her undergraduate degree in June 1945. This university of 6,500 students offers several programs that provide wonderful opportunities for collaboration between Andalusia and GCSU. The most obvious of these is the Creative Writing Program, where graduate students are instructed in the craft of writing and are encouraged to publish in their respective genres. Professors who teach in that program routinely hold classes at Andalusia and bring visiting writers for tours. The students visit Andalusia to tour the house, to volunteer, to walk the nature trail, or to find a place simply to read and write. No one can deny that Andalusia is an ideal place to inspire writers. Students in the Environmental Sciences department use the property for algae sample studies and ecosystem monitoring. GCSU also offers an alternative to traditional middle school education through a program called Early College, which prepares students to complete high school, gives them an opportunity to earn up to 60 hours of college credit, and assists them in meeting requirements to earn the Georgia HOPE Scholarship. The Early College students take field trips to Andalusia and are given topic prompts to write creative papers, some of which will be posted on Andalusia's website. The Foundation partners with GCSU on a variety of programs including the February lecture series, The Big Read, the Southern Literary Trail, and more. Andalusia has the potential to expand this partnership with GCSU and other colleges, universities, and institutions as we seek to increase the appreciation and understanding of the life and work of Flannery O'Connor.


Friday, October 23, 2009

A Message From Our Newest Employee

As the recently hired Visitor Services Manager of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation I have been asked to write a short entry on this blog to introduce myself. To begin with let me say that it is indeed an honor and a privilege to work at Andalusia. While I cannot claim to be a long-time admirer of O'Connor - indeed I read her for the first time this spring - my discovery of her powerful fiction at the age of 52 consititutes the great literary find of my life. It is sometimes hard to believe that one of the giants of twentieth-century literature lived right here in middle Georgia and that I have the good fortune to be working at the place where she penned her novels and stories. How did this all happen?

On a bright day in early June, my wife, Judy, and I visited Andalusia for the first time. As we turned into the driveway off Highway 441 we left behind the strip malls, fast food restaurants, and chain motels cluttering the landscape and entered the cloistered serentity of another time. Crossing the peaceful fields and pasture land, the main house slowly came into view. I could almost picture Flannery standing on the front porch waiting to greet us. I will never forget walking through the front door and peering into Flannery's room. Athough I have been to the homes of a number of writers, never had I felt so close to an author as I did at that moment. Andalusia exerted almost a magnetic pull and it was very hard to leave, even after spending two hours at the farm. Not surprisingly, Judy and I returned the following week for another visit. I don't know what motivated me, but during that visit I asked Craig out of the blue if he could use any volunteers. To my delight, he said he could.

Little did I imagine when I started volunteering on July 6th that my work at Andalusia would turn into a job that is such a labor of love. It is a pleasure to work for Craig, and I want to thank him and the members of the Andalusia board for this opportunity. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for Flannery O'Connor with our visitors and to promoting an increased appreciation and understanding of her great literary achievements.

- Mark Jurgensen

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Andalusia's Website Activity

If you are reading this blog you are probably already aware of the Foundation's website, which may have brought you here in the first place. You may be interested to know that our website is getting over a million hits a year, with the number of unique visitors (individual visits to the website) reaching over 32,000 over the last twelve months. A search on Google using either the term "Andalusia" or the name "Flannery O'Connor" consistently brings up the Foundation's website in the top five hits. The top five countries of origin for the website's visitors outside the U.S. this year make quite an intriguing list: Russian Federation, Canada, China, Romania, and Great Britain. In addition to biographical details on O'Connor and the history of Andalusia, the website offers information about the Foundation, the gift shop, related news, events, environmental education, and teaching resources. There are plenty of photographs too. If you haven't explored the website, please make a point to do so at


Friday, October 2, 2009

Latest Addition to O'Connor's Bedroom

Regina O'Connor left a good portion of the furniture and furnishings of her daughter's bedroom/study in place after Flannery O'Connor died in 1964. Mrs. O'Connor returned to the Cline family home in downtown Milledgeville to live the rest of her life, dying in 1995 at the age of 99. Visitors to Andalusia are informed that O'Connor's desk, chair, and typewriter on display in the room are not original because her mother donated those, along with a few other pieces from the house, to Georgia College back in the early 1970s. Some family members and friends received original artifacts as gifts from Mrs. O'Connor after her daughter's death, and some of those generous individuals have given these objects to the Foundation to be placed back in Flannery O'Connor's bedroom. The latest of these gifts is a bronze crucifix, engraved on one side as follows: "FLANNERY FROM THE SISTERS CHRISTMAS 1962" and on the other side: "PER IPSUM ET CUM IPSO ET IN IPSO" (translated: Through Him, and with Him, and in Him). We assume it was a gift from the sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Care hospice center in Atlanta, for whom O'Connor wrote the introduction to A Memoir of Mary Ann (1961). We are very grateful for this valuable artifact, along with the others that have found their way back to Andalusia, thanks to the generosity of our Friends.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vote for O'Connor for best NBA winner

No, Flannery O'Connor did not play professional basketball. In this case, NBA stands for National Book Award, and she did win one of those. The Complete Stories by O'Connor and edited by Robert Giroux won the NBA for fiction in 1972, the first time that particular award had been given to a deceased writer. Now, the National Book Foundation is sponsoring a contest on its website to decide who wrote the Best of the National Book Awards Fiction. The six finalists are O'Connor, Faulkner, Welty, Ellison, Cheever, and Pynchon. I am proud to report that, last time I checked, O'Connor had a substantial lead. Please visit the National Book Foundation's website and cast your vote for O'Connor.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Student Workday at Andalusia

Andalusia is very fortunate to be located in a town with a university that stresses the importance of community involvement to its students. Today, Andalusia is seeing direct benefits from these fine young scholars. Professor Gregg Kaufman brought more than twenty students today from Georgia College & State University to do some landscaping work on the front lawn of the main house. They hauled soil, developed beds, and planted shrubs. Some of the students worked on the nature trail also. We have had the pleasure of working with student volunteers for over six years, and I believe the experience has been great for Andalusia and the students. Are you interested in volunteering at Andalusia? We'd be happy to have your help.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recording Visits to Andalusia

Andalusia has been open to the public since 2003, and through the years, some of the guests have documented their visits on the web using personal websites, blogs, Facebook, photo galleries, and YouTube. It is obvious that coming to see the place where O'Connor wrote her stories has a profound impact on some of these individuals. Having so much of the original furniture and furnishings in the main house provides visitors with an authentic experience, perhaps making it seem as if Flannery O'Connor just left Andalusia for the last time. Some visitors ask us the inevitable question, "Do you ever sense O'Connor's spirit in the house?" Sometimes they aren't so direct and will ask if O'Connor died in the house. In fact, she did not. She died in the Baldwin County hospital in Milledgeville. I have never experienced any paranormal activity at Andalusia. I don't believe O'Connor, or any other former occupant, haunts the halls of Andalusia. However, the spirit of her personality and creativity are very much present at this place, and I believe it is that atmosphere that compells some of our visitors to document their pilgrimage in hopes of capturing and offering the experience to others.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Decatur Book Festival

If you happen to be in the Atlanta area this Saturday or Sunday over Labor Day weekend, don't miss the AJC Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, Georgia (just east of Atlanta). Andalusia will be sharing a booth with the Flannery O'Connor Review. If you do make it to the festival, please visit us at booth #524 on East Ponce de Leon Avenue. We will be selling books, journals, posters, and other O'Connor-related souvenirs from the Andalusia gift shop and Special Collections at the GCSU Library. This is an incredible festival that features an impressive line-up of writers along with booksellers, rare-book dealers, entertainers, storytellers, and literary landmarks like Andalusia. Best of all, virtually every session and event is free and open to the public. Check out the website at for all the details. We hope to see you there!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Novel Destinations

If visiting literary landmarks like Andalusia is your idea of rounding out a great vacation, then you may be interested in a book called Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West. This 2008 publication from the National Geographic Society is now available in paperback (in our gift shop - $13.95). Shannon McKenna and Joni Rendon give summaries and highlights of the homes and haunts of famous writers at over 500 locations, with in depth reviews of ten locations in the U.S. and abroad. Andalusia hasn't made it to this book's top ten list just yet; however, Flannery O'Connor gets three pages featuring the Childhood Home in Savannah, the O'Connor Collection at Georgia College in Milledgeville, and Andalusia. The book also lists literary festivals, tours, libraries, lodging, and other related places to visit. The Denver Post hails Novel Destinations as "a dream come true for reading enthusiasts who also travel." It is a fine guide book and companion to larger, and more photographic works such as American Writers at Home by J. D. McClatchy and Erica Lennard and Writers of the American South by Hugh Howard and Roger Straus III, both of which feature Andalusia. Of course, for O'Connor enthusiasts, the best guide book available is Sarah Gordon's The Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia published by UGA Press in 2008.


Friday, August 21, 2009

New presence on Facebook

Andalusia now has a new "address" in the Facebook neighborhood. If you aren't familiar with Facebook, it is probably the fastest growing online community in the country. It provides its users with an easy way to post interests, photos, events, discussions, and other information, which they can share with a limited audience of "friends" or with anybody who logs on to the site. Facebook almost serves as a personal website generator for individuals, organizations, and businesses. We started out with a MySpace Page a few years back, then migrated to a Facebook profile last year. Due to restrictions of Facebook, Andalusia had to change from a "profile" to a "page." Please visit Andalusia on Facebook and consider becoming one of our fans. Here's the link:


Friday, August 14, 2009

Tokens at Flannery O'Connor's grave

A good portion of O'Connor fans who visit Andalusia also take the time to see other sites in Milledgeville associated with the writer, including Georgia College, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and Memory Hill Cemetery, where O'Connor is buried. As is the case with the graves of famous people all over the world, visitors often leave behind something on or around O'Connor's tombstone. The most common objects are coins, usually pennies. The motivations behind this gesture are varied, from demonstrating affection and respect for the deceased to paying for one's passage to the afterlife. There are even voodoo practices associated with leaving coins at grave sites! In addition to the traditional flowers, some visitors to O'Connor's grave leave behind other tokens such as peacock feathers, pebbles, stones, poems, small books, and figurines. I once found a small plastic gorilla figure at the foot of her tombstone (a big fan of Wise Blood, obviously). On a recent visit, a Frenchman named Jacques Colin took some photographs of the tombstone adorned with several tokens. He was amazed that, over the course of just three days, the collection of the items on the tombstone expanded and was rearranged several different times. We encourage all our visitors to see Memory Hill Cemetery and the grave site. O'Connor's deep convictions and her fixed gaze on the eternal make such a pilgrimage most appropriate.


Friday, August 7, 2009


Because Flannery O'Connor has such a wide following, both here in the U.S. and around the world, we often welcome visitors to Andalusia who are venturing through the South for the first time. Some of these individuals are familiar with the region in southern Spain, the place the property was apparently named after by some of the nineteenth-century owners. In fact, a few years back we welcomed several professors to the farm who were teaching in that specific region. If our visitors are well acquainted with that Spanish community, they may assume that O'Connor and her family pronounced the farm's name as the Spanish would, Andalucia (sounds like AndalooSEEya). However, as well-established American Southerners by the twentieth century, the Clines and O'Connors spelled the name with an "s" instead of a "c" and pronounced it, AndaLOOshya. We still hear several different pronunciations of the name, from AndaLOOsa to AndaLOOseea. Frankly, it makes no difference to me how you pronounce the name as long as you make sure to come see it for yourself. I think you will agree, Andalusia es muy bonito!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Many Acres Are There?

The 1947 entry in Sally Fitzgerald's chronology in the Library of America volume, Flannery O'Connor Collected Works, explains that upon his death, Dr. Bernard Cline left the Andalusia property to his sister, Regina Cline O'Connor (Flannery's mother), and another brother, Louis Cline. The text states that the Andalusia Farm included "500 acres of fields and 1,000 acres of woods." That particular description is not exactly accurate. Bernard Cline actually acquired two tracts of land equaling 550-acres in the early 1930s that were the core of a 1700-acre plantation in the 19th century. It is out of this original property that Dr. Cline and his immediate heirs carved a farm complex, hayfields, and livestock ponds. It was some time after this initial purchase that Dr. Cline began to acquire wooded sections north of the farm, totalling 1,000 acres in size, which remained undeveloped during his lifetime and were never part of the Andalusia Farm. This section was later divided and tracts were distributed to some of Dr. Cline's relatives. Developers eventually purchased some of these tracts and created the Northwoods subdivision, which includes O'Connor Drive and Regina Drive. Today, Andalusia is 544 acres in size (six acres were lost to the highway expansion several decades ago), and the Flannery O'Connor - Andalusia Foundation owns approximately 524 of those acres, including the main house, the outbuildings, pastures, hayfields, several ponds, and forests. In two separate transactions in 2003, the Foundation acquired this property from Mrs. O'Connor's Estate and from the private owners of the twenty-acre farm complex . The remaining twenty-acre tract is located just north of the farm complex and is held by the Executor of Mrs. O'Connor's Estate.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The King of the Birds Returns to Andalusia

Almost twenty years have passed since the screams of peafowl pierced the solitude of Andalusia. Thanks to the generosity of some close friends to the Foundation, the King of the Birds will soon return. A few peafowl (not the dozens that O'Connor once raised) will take up residence at the farm in August, settling into a very impressive aviary built by local contractor Billy Allen and his fine crew of craftsmen. And, just for the record, the term "peafowl" refers to the two species of the Pavo genus of pheasants. Only the males, with the very beautiful tail feathers, are called peacocks; the females are called peahens. In other words, technically there is no such thing as a female peacock. Building an aviary adequate to house such large birds is quite an undertaking and was not included in this year's budget. We could really use your help! If you would like to make a donation to help us "bring back the peafowl" to Andalusia, please give us a call at 478-454-4029. Thank you.


Monday, July 13, 2009

New Souvenirs in the Andalusia Gift Shop

Some of the visitors to Andalusia arrive prepared to spend a week's wages on the interesting assortment of merchandise in our gift shop. They walk away with a bag full of books, note cards, a Stan Strickland print, and a few other treasures. However, some of our visitors may not have so much money to spend, especially in this challenging economy, but they still want to take something home that will remind them of their experience at O'Connor's home. We have recently added yet another line of inexpensive souvenirs to fit just about any budget -- full-color Lucite refrigerator magnets! Now wait, before you groan, please understand that these are VERY attractive magnets with four different photo styles: the main house, the pond, a peacock, and a single peacock feather. They are reasonably priced at $4 each. Call and order your magnet(s) today at 478-454-4029.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Bibliographic Work on O'Connor

Cambridge University Press has just published Volume 16 in the American Critical Archives Series, and the title is Flannery O'Connor: The Contemporary Reviews. The editors are R. Neil Scott from Middle Tennessee State University and Irwin H. Streigh from the Royal Military College of Canada. The title is a bit misleading, as the editors admit, because the reviews are not limited to those published only during O'Connor's lifetime. In their words, "Given the remarkable posthumous acclaim for O'Connor's art and thought, and the special honor accorded her in the seven years following her death in 1964, in selecting and editing reviews for this volume we have taken what we feel are legitimate liberties within the rubric of contemporary critical responses to American authors with which the series is concerned." And, it should be noted that O'Connor is in very good company in this series with writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Faulkner, Twain, T. S. Eliot, and Eudora Welty. This volume offers critical book reviews on O'Connor's published fiction and essays, including more than 400 reviews from more than 200 publications. With a total of 482 pages, including a strong introduction and a respectable index, this monograph will be a valuable addition to O'Connor scholarship.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Restoring the Milk-Processing Shed

A grant from the Milledgeville chapter of the Watson-Brown Junior Board made it possible for the Foundation to begin work last week on restoring the milk-processing shed at Andalusia. Funding for the project also came from gifts given in memory of Robert W. Mann (former Chair of the Board) and his sister-in-law, Catherine Florencourt Firth. The general contractor for the project is Allen Contruction Company of Milledgeville, the same firm that completed the restoration of the pump house in 2008. The milk-processing shed is located in front of the main cow barn a few hundred feet behind the main house. It is a one-story structure with two small interior rooms and is constructed of structural clay tile and covered with a wood-frame hipped roof and tin roofing. The north room is accessible by doors from the west and north and houses an existing pump along with cooling and storage equipment. The south room has a built-in "basin" constructed of concrete on the east wall. There is a small addition on the south side of the building with its own entrance, and this room houses an electric water heater. The old chimney above this addition is still in place, implying that the heat source at one time was wood or coal. As was the case with the restoration of the water tower and pump house, we hope to recreate the semblance of an operational farm for the purposes of education and historic preservation. Although these structures are no longer functional on the property, they are predominant pieces of the agricultural landscape at Andalusia and represent significant artifacts of twentieth-century farm life in central Georgia. They are also integral elements of the setting which provided inspiration for so many of Flannery O'Connor's stories. An interesting sidenote about the milk-processing shed: it was slightly modified during the summer of 1976 for the filming at Andalusia of O'Connor's short story, "The Displaced Person." Wood siding was placed over the tile of the shed to make it look like the tenant shack for the Polish immigrant family in the story. The siding was removed after filming was complete. The PBS production of "The Displaced Person" is now on DVD and available in the gift shop at Andalusia.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Wise Blood on DVD

The Criterion Collection has issued John Huston's Wise Blood on DVD, which was just released in May, 2009. The movie originally appeared in theaters in 1979 and stars Brad Dourif as Hazel Motes. This special edition DVD features interviews with Brad Dourif, writer Benedict Fitzgerald, and writer-producer Michael Fitzgerald. There is a 26-minute episode of the television program Creativity with Bill Moyers from 1982, featuring director John Huston discussing his life and work. But the real treasured addition to the DVD is a rare archival audio recording of Flannery O'Connor reading her short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." This DVD is an absolute must-have for O'Connor fans and literary collectors. The cost of the DVD is $39.95. You can order your copy from the Andalusia gift shop at 478-454-4029.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Habit of Being -- Happy 30th!

I am always interested when visitors to Andalusia tell me that they enjoy reading O'Connor's letters in The Habit of Being even more than her fiction. Perhaps she would be horrified to know that some readers find her personal correspondence even more entertaining and/or meaningful than her novels and short stories. I am reminded of a wonderful line from one of our volunteers, a close friend of both Flannery and Regina O'Connor, who said "Flannery couldn't write a dull sentence if she had to." I agree with that assessment completely. Controversial and politically incorrect as they are, and perhaps insensitive to a degree, O'Connor's letters are still a fascinating treasure-trove of theological insight, literary commentary, and laugh-out-loud humor. I think the letters also demonstrate how O'Connor assumed various personae for different correspondents, which is most evidential in the letters to her closest friends, such as "A" (Betty Hester), Maryat Lee, Cecil Dawkins, and the Fitzgeralds. Reading the letters following a visit to Andalusia is a great way to extend the experience of immersing oneself in the setting that inspired one of the greatest writers in American literature. I highly recommend The Habit of Being, especially for 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of its publication.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Annual appeal from the Foundation

Each year the Foundation sends out an appeal letter to donors or potential donors for support of our efforts at Andalusia to restore and preserve this treasured landmark. While we completely understand that charitable giving may be the last thing on the minds of so many who have felt the pain of the current recession, we hope that you will keep the Foundation on your list of recipients for tax-deductible gifts this year. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we depend on donations for our day-to-day operations, including keeping Andalusia open for visitors all year long. Please visit our website at and click on "Donations" to become a Friend of Andalusia. Thank you.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

O'Connor in pop culture

By now the news has traveled around the globe that this year's season finale of the ABC series "Lost" included as a prop O'Connor's second short story collection, Everything That Rises Must Converge. Some folks may remember that the season finale of the TNT series "The Closer" a couple of years ago included a conversation about O'Connor's famous quote, "When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville." In fact, O'Connor's name or the title of her works is showing up more frequently in television, movies, theater, and music. Several household names in the entertainment industry have openly admitted their admiration of O'Connor's work, including Bruce Springsteen, Tommy Lee Jones, Conan O'Brien, Holly Hunter, the Cohen brothers, and John Waters. Folk musician Lucinda Williams chased peacocks as a child while visiting Andalusia with her father, the acclaimed poet Miller Williams. What I find truly striking is how prevalent O'Connor's themes are finding their way into pop culture. For those who flocked to the theaters to see the last Batman movie, "Dark Knight," just recall the compelling words the Joker offered to Batman and later to the detective in the interrogation room (the scene is available on YouTube). His message could have easily come out of the mouth of the Misfit in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." After fifty years or more, it appears to me that Flannery O'Connor has found a generation of readers that is no longer repelled by the grotesque and violence -- instead, those are the elements that attract them the most. Perhaps, with a little guidance from criticism, commentary, and a few good teachers, that attraction will lead those readers more immediately to the deeper truths of O'Connor's work. These are exciting times to be an O'Connor fan.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dateline: Rome, Italy

I am writing this entry on the third and final day of the O'Connor conference held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Italy. As expected, the primary papers have focused on O'Connor's Catholicism or her theological vision; however, even within that framework, there has been considerable variety. The other papers have truly been all over the board, from the influence of Dante on O'Connor's craft to a comparison of the grotesque in her fiction and the television cartoon series, The Simpsons! I have attended O'Connor conferences in the U.S. that attracted several people from foreign countries, but nothing on this scale. It is amazing to see so many different ethnic and even religious groups represented in one place at one time, all interested in if not devoted to the work of Flannery O'Connor. I was honored to participate on a small level and appreciated the opportunity to provide information about the Foundation's work at Andalusia.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Another O'Connor website

The Foundation's website at is primarily designed to inform visitors about our Foundation and its efforts to restore and preserve Andalusia. Of course, it includes some details of O'Connor's life, the history of the farm, information about visiting the property, teaching resources, and the news and events associated with Andalusia. Visitors can even make donations through the website using a credit card. There are other sites of interest such as the O'Connor Collection at the GCSU Museum in Milledgeville and O'Connor's Childhood Home in Savannah. There is another site devoted to all things O'Connor that gets an incredible amount of web traffic. The site is called "Comforts of Home" and bills itself as a Flannery O'Connor Repository, which you will find is an accurate description. Brian Collier, the site administrator, is quite diligent in keeping the site up-to-date with information about O'Connor along with bibliographies, essays, links to other sites, and O'Connor-related news. Make a point to visit this resourceful site at


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Headed to Rome

I will be attending "Reason, Faith and Fiction: An International Flannery O'Connor Conference," hosted by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, in Rome, Italy, April 20-22. This is the fourth conference of Poetics & Christianity, an international forum for studying the intersection of artistic culture and expressions of religious faith, with a special emphasis on narrative and dramatic arts. I am presenting a paper titled "A View from the Woods: Preserving the Fortune of Andalusia." The paper will illustrate the similarities between the circumstances in O’Connor’s short story, “A View of the Woods”, and the developments that were taking place in the Milledgeville, Georgia area where O’Connor was living when she wrote the story. O’Connor presents Mr. Fortune as an ambitious landowner, driven by pride and domination, whose hunger for progress and personal acclaim blinds him to the pure beauty of the natural world. He believes his vision of the future is shared and validated by his granddaughter, Mary Fortune Pitts. Mr. Fortune’s canvas of the future is painted with deception, revenge, and even violence. I hope to demonstrate how the story pairs reckless commercial progress with greed and avarice, contrasting the irresponsible destruction of natural resources to the stewardship of preserving the rural landscape. Using this theme as an analogy, I will chart the rapid commercial and residential development surrounding Andalusia. Finally, the paper will briefly outline the steps that the Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation is taking to preserve the 524 acres in its stewardship and what effects, both good and bad, the encroaching development has and will have on Andalusia.


Monday, March 30, 2009

The Southern Literary Trail is blazin'

The TRAILFEST09 programs in Milledgeville for the Southern Literary Trail hosted by the Foundation and the Flannery O'Connor Review were a tremendous success. We have received reports from locations in all three states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi of the terrific response to all the activities. The readings, lectures, and film screenings in Milledgeville attracted approximately 330 people. I would like to thank the Georgia Humanities Council and the Knight Fund for Milledgeville along with Arts Unlimited, the Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Creative Writing Program at Georgia College for their gracious sponsorship of these events. Bruce Gentry, editor of the Flannery O'Connor Review, was responsible for so much of the planning and coordination of the programs, for which I am extremely grateful. Lastly, I would like to thank the students, faculty, and community members who attended the programs and made TRAILFEST09 such a memorable occasion. Check out the details at


Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank you, Dave Perkins

Dave Perkins is a very talented musician, a record producer, an academic administrator, a good soul, and a friend of Andalusia. Over the last few decades, he has played and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. He recently organized a benefit concert for Andalusia at a club called Mercy Lounge in Nashville. He assembled some of the most talented singers, songwriters, musicians, and actors you will find anywhere for a magical night of music and a round table discussion the next day at Vanderbilt University where Dave is the Director of the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture Program at the Divinity School. The performers were Old Black Kettle, Minton Sparks, Mary Gauthier, Over the Rhine, and Denice Hicks. Because of Dave's dedication to our efforts at Andalusia and through the generosity of these incredible performers and all the folks who came out to hear them, this event raised over $1,400 for the Foundation. It was tremendously inspiring for me to be in a room of several hundred people who have read O'Connor and really get it. I will never forget those two days in Nashville and will be forever in your debt, Dave Perkins. Thank you.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thanks to Karin Slaughter

Our Foundation hosted an evening with Karin Slaughter last Monday night at the Milledgeville public library. The weather was horrible with plenty of mist and fog, but we still had a respectable group of over twenty people, some of whom are really big fans of Slaughter's work. It was actually a very intimate setting in the Special Collections Room of the library, with folks sitting around the large conference table, with Karin at the head of the table. She read from one of her short stories, which was quite a departure from her suspense novels. She fielded questions after her reading and talked about growing up in the Atlanta area and how it affected her writing. She was absolutely charming, very approachable, and obviously quite relaxed. I am grateful to the library for providing the venue and to Waldenbooks in Milledgeville for having books on hand for the guests to purchase and have signed by the author. Most of all, I am very thankful to Karin for her willingness to donate her time in coming down from Atlanta for this special event and wish her all kinds of success with her upcoming books.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Andalusia on Facebook

Okay, so I know Flannery O'Connor would be appalled by all the ways our Foundation is promoting her life and work, especially through the Internet. But I can't think of a better way to get younger readers interested in O'Connor, her literature, and Andalusia than through the electronic sources that dictate communication among the younger generation. The Foundation has had a very effective website up and running for about six years, which is a standard information medium for all ages now. We developed a MySpace page a few years ago, but of course, that is SO 2005 (as my youngest son made clear to me). In an effort to stay relevant, we have now created a Facebook account, thanks to one of our fine Georgia College student volunteers, Ali Duckworth. Check out our profile, Andalusia-Flannery O'Connor, and let us know what you think. We will use the account to inform all our "Facebook Friends" of the Foundation's upcoming events and activities, just as we have been doing with the website, direct emails, our Friends newsletter, and this blog. More than anything else, we hope to see you here at Andalusia, but if you can't get here (or until you can), visit us virtually anytime!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Georgia Humanities Council Grant

I am overjoyed to report that the Foundation and the Flannery O'Connor Review at Georgia College, teaming with the Lillian Smith Center and other literary sites in Georgia, received a grant from the Georgia Humanities Council to offer a series of public programs in March 2009 as part of the Southern Literary Trail (see earlier blog entry). This grant will add to the funds already secured by the Foundation and the Review from the Knight Fund of Milledgeville, GCSU Arts Unlimited, and GCSU Office of Diversity and Multicutural Affairs for these Trailfest '09 events. Check out the News & Events Page of the Foundation's website ( for the complete schedule of these and many other events offered through March 2009 in Milledgeville.