Dr. Cline had named the property Sorrel Farm, because of the sorrel-colored horses he kept there. In the fall of 1946, before Dr. Cline's death, Flannery O'Connor met on a bus to Atlanta a descendant of the original Hawkins family that owned Andalusia. It was this descendant who told her the original name of the farm in the 19th century was Andalusia. She wrote her mother, and when her uncle Bernard heard of it, he was pleased and liked the name. From then on the farm was called Andalusia.
A year after they inherited the estate, Regina O’Connor and Louis Cline began expanding the farm operation and established 200 acres of pasture, several hay fields, and livestock ponds. The rest of the property was kept in woodlands for selective timbering. Because Louis Cline continued to work in Atlanta and came to Milledgeville mostly on the weekends, the management of the farm was primarily left in Mrs. O’Connor’s hands with tenant help and hired labor. She was very successful with the farm. As a widow managing a sizeable dairy in the 1950s, Mrs. O’Connor acquired distinction as a businesswoman.
Louis Cline had a substantial income and was largely responsible for providing the farm’s supplies and equipment. In the very late 1950s he added a small suite of rooms on the north corner of the Main House, giving him a
place to stay when he came down from Atlanta. The sitting room portion of this addition became the place where Flannery put her beautiful tall bookcases.
In the early 1960s when farm labor problems were becoming serious, Regina O’Connor decided to get out of the dairy business. She converted Andalusia to a beef cattle farm. But after Flannery died in 1964, Mrs. O’Connor soon moved back to the Cline family house in town on Greene Street and turned the daily management of the cattle over to a series of caretakers. After the cattle were gone, many of Flannery’s swans, geese, and ducks remained at Andalusia along with the peacocks. None of the descendants of O’Connor’s domestic flocks has survived, at least not at the farm.
While living at Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor completed Wise Blood, which was published in 1952. Then her highly acclaimed collection of short stories A Good Man Is Hard To Find was published in 1955. She also wrote another novel The Violent Bear It Away published in 1960. Her second collection of short stories Everything That Rises Must Converge was published posthumously in 1965. A collection of nonfiction prose titled Mystery and Manners edited by Robert and Sally Fitzgerald was published in 1969. The Complete Stories, edited by Robert Giroux, won the 1971 National Book Award for Fiction. Then Sally Fitzgerald edited a large collection of O’Connor’s letters, The Habit of Being, published in 1979, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. O’Connor’s Collected Works was published in 1988 as part of the Library of America series, the definitive collection of America’s greatest writers.
O’Connor certainly did not live a reclusive life after returning to Milledgeville, although her vocation and her illness imposed some restrictions. Accompanied by her mother, Flannery made frequent visits into town for dining, social events, and attending religious services regularly at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
She also traveled throughout the United States for various speaking engagements. Nevertheless, during her productive years as a writer, she spent most of her time at Andalusia. There, she routinely wrote every morning until noon and spent her afternoons and evenings tending to her domestic birds or entertaining visitors. The setting of Andalusia, including the ever-present peafowl, figures prominently in her fiction. If it is true, as critics and scholars have noted, that Southern fiction is marked by the importance given to a sense of place, then a major force in shaping Flannery O’Connor’s work is landscape. Andalusia provided for her not only a place to live and write, but also a functional landscape in which to set her fiction.