12th Annual Bluegrass Festival at Andalusia Farm

Nov. 5 • Milledgeville


Flannery O’Connor, considered to be one of America’s greatest fiction writers, lived on Andalusia Farm, just outside Milledgeville, Georgia, for 13 years until her death in 1964. Andalusia, which is open to the public for tours Thursday through Sunday each week, will host its 12th Annual Bluegrass Festival on Sat., Nov. 5, 2016 with music by Packway Handle Band, the Skillet Lickers and Good Country People. Gates open at 3:00 p.m., food and beverage vendors will be on site and guests are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and an acoustic instrument to join in the porch pickin’. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors with kids under 12 admitted for free.


The Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation is dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and appreciation of Andalusia, final home of Flannery O’Connor, to perpetuate her place on the roster of great writers of the twentieth century. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980, Andalusia has been brought to life by descriptions in the letters of Flannery O’Connor, collected and published in the book The Habit of Being. The wooded areas of the property have been largely untouched for many decades, giving them a remarkably pristine appearance, even though Andalusia is located adjacent to a rapidly developing commercial district. While the oldest existing structures at Andalusia only date back to the early nineteenth century, local historical records and physical evidence on this elevated property suggest much earlier occupation. The Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation hosts several ongoing events annually, including the Bluegrass Festival, to raise funds dedicated to  support the care and upkeep of the Farm.


Mary Flannery O’Connor was born in 1925 in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of Edward F. and Regina Cline O’Connor. The O’Connors lived at 207 East Charlton St. across Lafayette Square from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where the family attended Mass. In the spring of 1938, the family moved to Atlanta, where Edward O’Connor was employed as a Federal Housing Authority real estate appraiser. In 1940, the O’Connors moved to Milledgeville to live in the Cline family home on Greene Street. Mr. O’Connor died of lupus early in 1941, and Mrs. O’Connor and Flannery continued to live in the Milledgeville family home along with Flannery’s aunts. It is here where Flannery O’Connor would continue to live, with a bedroom on the second floor, while she attended Peabody High School and Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College & State University).

When Flannery O’Connor left Milledgeville in 1945 to attend the State University of Iowa, she enrolled in the Writers Workshop conducted by Paul Engle. Her thesis there comprised a collection of short stories entitled “The Geranium,” which would contain the seed of her first novel. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree after two years but remained in Iowa for another year before going to the Yaddo Foundation’s artist colony near Saratoga Springs, New York. Afterwards she lived in New York City, where she was introduced to Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, with whom she lived for over a year in Ridgefield, Connecticut. During this time she was writing her first novel, Wise Blood.


In late 1950, Flannery O’Connor began to exhibit symptoms of the disease that had killed her father. She suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints, or internal organs. (Learn more about the disease from the Lupus Foundation of America.) O’Connor’s condition forced her to return to Milledgeville in 1951, but she continued working on revised drafts of the novel even while she was in the hospital. Instead of returning to the family home in town, she and her mother moved to Andalusia in 1952.

O’Connor certainly did not live a reclusive life after returning to Milledgeville, although her vocation and her illness imposed some restrictions. Accompanied by her mother, she made frequent visits into town for dining and social events, and attended religious services regularly at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

She also traveled throughout the United States for various speaking engagements. Nevertheless, during her productive years as a writer, she spent most of her time at Andalusia. There she routinely wrote every morning until noon and spent her afternoons and evenings tending to her domestic birds or entertaining visitors. The setting of Andalusia, including the ever-present peafowl, figures prominently in her fiction. If it is true, as critics and scholars have noted, that Southern fiction is marked by the importance given to a sense of place, then a major force in shaping Flannery O’Connor’s work is landscape. Andalusia provided for her not only a place to live and write, but also a functional landscape in which to set her fiction.

Flannery O'Connor and a beloved peacock at Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville. (Photo by Joe McTyre/AJC)

Flannery O’Connor and a beloved peacock at Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville. (Photo by Joe McTyre/AJC)

While living at Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor completed Wise Blood, which was published in 1952. Then her highly acclaimed collection of short storiesA Good Man Is Hard To Find was published in 1955. She also wrote another novel, The Violent Bear It Away, published in 1960. Her second collection of short stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge,was published posthumously in 1965. A collection of nonfiction prose titled Mystery and Manners, edited by Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, was published in 1969.The Complete Stories, edited by Robert Giroux, won the 1971 National Book Award for Fiction. Then Sally Fitzgerald edited a large collection of O’Connor’s letters, The Habit of Being, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award after its publication in 1979. O’Connor’s Collected Works was published in 1988 as part of the Library of America series, the definitive collection of America’s greatest writers.

In 2009, author Jewly Hight wrote a story for Georgia Music about O’Connor’s influence on musicians and songwriters – read it here.

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