It’s officially Fall, which means it’s time for Fall Break! I was so excited this year to actually receive a few days off to relax and regroup before we head further into the semester. While I’ve done a lot of sleeping and reading, I also thought it would be fun to sneak away to Milledgeville, Georgia, to visit the home of one of my favorite writers, Flannery O’Connor.
O’Connor was born in 1925 in Savannah, Georgia. In 1937, her father was diagnosed with Lupus, and in 1940 they moved to Milledgeville. He died in 1941, but Flannery and her mother Regina continued to live there. Flannery attended Georgia State College for Women, which is now GCSU. She graduated in 1945 with a degree in social sciences. From there, she went to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop to hone her writing craft, and she also spent time at Yaddo, a creative community in Saratoga Springs, New York. After Yaddo, Flannery moved to Connecticut with her friends the Fitzgeralds.
At this point, Flannery began to be worried by some irregular health problems. She would eventually be diagnosed with the same disease that took her father’s life, Lupus. In 1952 she moved back to Milledgeville and the family farm, Andalusia. She lived there for the last thirteen years of her life. Though she was ill and often in pain, these were also the most creative years of her life. She wrote most of her incredible short stories at Andalusia Farm.
O’Connor is one of my favorite writers because of her thoughts about how art and faith connect, so I was really excited to go visit the place where she wrote most of her stories.
Andalusia is located just outside of Milledgeville, and it’s seated on hundreds of acres of land. I left home about 8:30 and got there a little before 11:00. The farm doesn’t have a huge staff, so everything is self-guided, but I loved being able to wander around on my own time and see everything.
I started with the house, which is a white farmhouse at the top of the hill. The bottom floor is open for guests, and there is an introductory video, and a few rooms to explore.
After that, I went outside to see the peacocks. Flannery loved birds of all kinds, but she called peacocks “the king of birds.” There are two in residence at Andalusia now, although when Flannery was alive she kept many, many more.
Next, I walked down to the pond and spotted a huge blue heron wading. He flew away when I approached, but he was beautiful! The trail led from the pond up the creek, and I’m not sure what I was expecting to find, but it was basically a lot of woods. Those of you who know me know I’m not super outdoorsy, so the whole spiderweb/bug/strange noises thing sort of got me for the first few minutes. As I approached the end of the trail, I scared off about five or six deer, who sort of exploded out of a clearing in front of me and ran off into the woods. It was amazing to see them up close, running away. That was, by far, one of the coolest moments of the whole day!
The trail looped back around to the pond and from there I went up to explore some of the outbuildings. The farm was a working dairy farm, so you can still see the barn and the other buildings necessary to keeping a farm running.
If you’re interested in seeing pictures of this excursion, there’s a gallery below! You should be able to click on the first image and scroll through them all. I figured that would be easier than dropping them into the text of the post.
I didn’t have time to go to Milledgeville proper, since I wanted to get home before rush hour, but if you do go to the city you can find an exhibit about O’Connor at the GCSU library, and she is buried in town.
I had a really fun day, and I highly recommend this little day trip to anyone who is interested in Georgia writers.
Keep Reading, and don’t forget to check out all the pictures below!!
Want more Flannery?
My review of Wise Blood and my other thoughts on Flannery.
For more on O’Connor’s religion, check out The Terrible Speed of Mercy by Jonathan Rogers. You can also buy her Prayer Journal and a new book called The Province of Joy that leads you in prayers like those Flannery would have prayed.
For more on her life and works, I recommend Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch OR Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South by Ralph Wood.
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