Dear Regina

Flannery O'Connor's Letters from Iowa

Title Details

Pages: 304

Illustrations: 5 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Hardcover

Pub Date: 07/15/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6185-7

List Price: $34.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book

Dear Regina

Flannery O'Connor's Letters from Iowa

The first publication of Flannery O'Connor's letters to her mother

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Dear Regina offers a remarkable window into the early years of one of America's best-known literary figures. While at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop from 1945 to 1948, Flannery O'Connor wrote to her mother Regina Cline O'Connor (who she addressed by her first name) nearly every day and sometimes more than once a day. The complete correspondence of more than six hundred letters is housed at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. From that number, Miller selects 486 letters to show us a young adult learning to adjust to life on her own for the first time. In these letters, O'Connor shares details about living in a boardinghouse and subsisting on canned food and hot-plate dinners, and she asks for advice about a wide range of topics, including how to assuage her relatives' concerns about her well-being and how to buy whiskey to use for cough medicine.

These letters, which are being published for the first time with the unprecedented permission of the Mary Flannery O'Connor Charitable Trust, also off er readers important insights into O'Connor's intellectually formative years, when her ideas about writing, race, class, and interpersonal relationships were developing and changing. Her preoccupation with money, employment, and other practical matters reveals a side of O'Connor that we do not often see in her previously published letters. Most importantly, the letters show us her relationship with her mother in a much more intimate, positive light than we have seen before. The importance of this aspect of the letters cannot be overstated, given that so much literary analysis conflates her and Regina with the "sour, deformed daughters and self-righteous mothers" that critic Louise Westling sees so often in O'Connor's work.

Dear Regina is well organized and provides helpful summaries between the years that navigate the shifting experiences of O'Connor during her time in Iowa. The scholarship is sound, and Monica Carol Miller engages with other current biographical works on O'Connor in order to situate these letters and widen the frame on our view of O'Connor's life in her early twenties.

—Susan Srigley, editor of Dark Faith: New Essays on Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away

Dear Regina displays a very human Flannery O'Connor at the moment she is forming herself as a writer. These brief, daily letters highlight her wit, humor, and insecurities, creating a complex picture of a mother-daughter relationship that enabled O'Connor's development into one of the distinctive voices in American literature.

—Robert Donahoo, coeditor of Approaches to Teaching the Works of Flannery O’Connor

In Dear Regina, Mary Flannery O'Connor performs a balancing act. On the one hand, she plays the good daughter with pleasant comments about relatives and acquaintances, with support for Regina Cline O'Connor's taking on Andalusia, with news about laundry prices, clothing choices, and details of meals (with emphasis on Flannery's sweet tooth). On the other hand, the daughter earns the right to teach her mother that she is becoming Flannery O'Connor: an independent, disciplined writer with ambitions that the mother must respect and support.

—Marshall Bruce Gentry, editor, Flannery O’Connor Review

About the Author/Editor

MONICA CAROL MILLER is an assistant professor of English at Middle Georgia State University. She is the author of Being Ugly: Southern Women Writers and Social Rebellion.