Acclaimed Milledgeville author Flannery O’Connor featured on new stamp

Singer Bruce Springsteen is a fan. So are actors Tommy Lee Jones and Julianna Margulies.

Come Friday, others will join the ranks after the U.S. Postal Service unveils a new stamp in honor of iconic Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, who lived in Baldwin County most of her life.

“We’ve been trying to get that stamp through for more than 30 years,” said Sarah Gordon, founding editor of the Flannery O’Connor Review at Georgia College in Milledgeville. “I was so surprised when I heard.”

The stamp -- the latest in a Literary Arts series -- will feature a color rendering of O’Connor based on a black-and-white photograph taken when she was a senior at Georgia State College for Women, a forerunner of Georgia College. Surrounding O’Connor are peacock feathers, which often are associated with the author.

Gordon said it’s “highly appropriate” that O’Connor -- whose short stories explored religious themes and Southern life in particular -- gets her due on a stamp.

“A stamp is a way of commemorating and celebrating genius. And that’s what she was,” said Gordon, now an Athens resident.

“Flannery O’Connor is one of the great American writers. She just knows us -- the South and human nature.”

Bruce Gentry, a Georgia College professor of English and current editor of the review, is scheduled to speak at an unveiling ceremony, which will come during a national stamp show. He’ll give a short talk on O’Connor’s life at college and at her home, Andalusia.

O’Connor was born in Savannah in 1925. Her family moved to Milledgeville in 1938. When she was 15, O’Connor’s father died of lupus, the same disease that took her life in 1964 at age 39.

Her works include “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away.”

“Wise Blood” was made into a movie in 1979, and parts of it were filmed in Macon. It tells the story of a Southerner -- young, poor and ambitious but uneducated -- who decides to make something of himself. The best way to do so, he figures, is to become a preacher and begin his own church.

Several law enforcement officers in Macon, including Ray Wilkes, the late Bibb County sheriff, had cameo roles in the movie.

Gordon said she’s already preordered three sheets of stamps from the Postal Service website.

But it’s unlikely she’ll actually use them.

“I probably won’t be putting them on the light bill,” she said.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396.