Flannery O’Connor: Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Flannery O’Connor: Iowa Writers’ Workshop


Iowa Writers' Workshop (Dey House)
507 North Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Flannery O’Connor 1925-1964 was accepted to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1945 and obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1947. She was then offered a post-doctoral fellowship at the Workshop and spent another year in Iowa City.

The story of her arrival at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, situated at the beginning of the Complete Stories, is many readers’ first image of the eccentrically named author: a woman, plainspoken, charming, shy and yet sure of her self, and with good reason, the story suggests, for she had been exceptional all along.


Her scholarship was is journalism, but she called on the director of the Writers’ Workshop, named Paul Engle, and made a special request in her best Deep South voice. He asked her to say it again. She did so. He looked at her as if she had spoken in tongues. The he gave her pad and pencil and asked her to write it down. In her schoolteacherly script, she explained herself: My name is Flannery O’Connor. I am not a journalist. Can I come to the Writers’ Workshop? 



Elie, Paul. The Life You save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 145.