|Mary Flannery O'Connor was the only child in a devout Catholic family. Her father died of lupus when she was 16. O'Connor received a B.A. in 1945 from Women's College of Georgia, and an M.F.A. in 1947 from the University of Iowa, winning the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award in 1947. In 1949 she spent several months at Yaddo, the writers' colony, where she met several important writers, including Robert Lowell, who helped her further her career. "Wise Blood", her first book, was published in 1952, by which time O'Connor had been diagnosed with the lupus she had inherited, and she returned to the Georgia farmhouse where she had grown up and where her mother still lived. She remained there the rest of her life, writing fiction as well as profuse and lively letters to friends, editors, and fans. Her two novels and many short stories deal unsparingly with sin and redemption, and the difficulty of salvation. She died before she was 40, but the body of work she produced in her short life has earned her an undisputed place as one of the great Southern writers of the 20th century.