Friday, June 17, 2011

"Lord Flannery O'Connor"

Just before Memorial Day I posted a blog entry about Flannery O'Connor's father that focused on his distinguished military service. With Father's Day coming up this Sunday, I thought I would say a bit more about Edward O'Connor and the close relationship he had with his daughter. When one looks at photographs of Flannery O'Connor, one is immediately struck by her physical resemblance to her father. In the photo on the right, taken when Mary Flannery was seven years old on her First Communion, she is the spitting image of Edward O'Connor. Wearing a white dress trimmed in lace, with her short brown hair combed to the side, she peers into the camera with her father's clear-eyed gaze. The affinity Flannery had for her father was more than skin-deep. Edward O'Connor adored his daughter and, according to Brad Gooch, his pride in her "could amount to infatuation." (Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, p. 27). He participated in her world of childhood fantasy and would send her notes signed, "King of Siam." He enjoyed playing made-up games with little Flannery in which she she dubbed herself "Lord Flannery O'Connor." At the breakfast table, the elder O'Connor would sometimes find little poems or drawings from his daughter hiding under a plate or tucked in his napkin. He would then carefully put these little tokens of affection into his billfold and show them off to colleagues during the day. One cannot overstate the importance of Edward O'Connor in Flannery's life, and it is my hope that future biographers will amplify the relationship between Flannery and her father, whom she affectionately called "Ed."
- Mark

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