For the past couple of years, I’ve been searching for a photo: Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon, together.
Over their thirteen-year friendship, Gordon and O’Connor met in person only eight times. Twice in New York City and once at Robber Rocks, in Patterson, New York. Gordon visited O’Connor at Andalusia three times, with a fourth visit when they returned to Andalusia after speaking together at a conference. And once, before O’Connor died, Gordon visited her in the hospital.
During the years I spent gathering and transcribing their letters, I thought there might be two visits that offered the remote possibility of a photo.
The first: Gordon and O’Connor spent a weekend at Robber Rocks, the Tory Valley home of Susan Jenkins Brown. It was 1955. O’Connor had just been featured on Harvey Breit’s Galley Proof television show. Brown and Gordon hosted a party for O’Connor and invited Van Wyck Brooks and Malcolm Cowley. O’Connor, when asked to read, delivered “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” from the collection she’d just published.
O’Connor wrote to Sally and Robert Fitzgerald: “Mr. Brooks later remarked to Miss Jenkins that it was a shame someone with so much talent should look upon life as a horror story. Malcolm was very polite and asked me if I had a wooden leg.”
I searched or photos in archives: Georgia College, Emory, Princeton, UNC, Vanderbilt. Nothing.
The other possible photo op would have been in October, 1960. Gordon and O’Connor appeared with Katherine Anne Porter and Madison Jones at the Wesleyan Arts Festival.
I contacted the archives at Wesleyan in Macon, Georgia. No luck.
Next: A Macon newspaper? The Macon Telegraph is available on microfilm at libraries 800 miles away from me, in (you guessed it) Macon. I hired a researcher.
Still, I’ll keep looking.