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Cash, Jean W(ampler) 1938-

CASH, Jean W(ampler) 1938-

PERSONAL: Born 1938; married Lloyd H. Cash, June 8, 1963; children: Gordon W. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Madison College (now James Madison University), B.A., 1959, M.A. (English), 1967, postgraduate study, 1967-75; attended writing workshops at Purdue University, 1981, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1982, and Georgetown University, 1984; University of Mississippi, Ph.D. (English), 1983; attended Cambridge University, 1987. Politics: Republican Hobbies and other interests: Travel, gardening, collecting

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 425, Broadway, VA 22815. Office—English Dept., Keezell 212, James Madison University, 800 South Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 22807. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Taught at secondary schools in Virginia and Delaware, 1959-80; University of Mississippi, University, instructor, 1976-77; James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, 1980—, associate professor, 1986-96, professor of English, 1996—.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association, College English Association, American Literature Association, Sigma Phi Lambda, Kappa Delta Pi, Sigma Tau Delta, Phi Kappa Phi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from James Madison University, 1987, Virginia Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, 1989, and Northeastern Modern Language Association, 1993.


Flannery O'Connor: A Life, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Articles about O'Connor and Mississippi writer, Larry Brown; plans to edit a collection of essays on Brown's work.

SIDELIGHTS: Jean W. Cash spent nearly two decades teaching English to grade school students before advancing to the university level, and became a full professor in 1996. Her primary areas of interest are the study of Southern literature and composition. Cash spent ten years researching and writing Flannery O'Connor: A Life, described by Booklist's Margaret Flanagan as an "intimate chronicle of a major literary talent."

Cash first became interested in O'Connor while at the University of Mississippi, where she began to study her letters. She interviewed O'Connor's friends and classmates, but the only family members who would cooperate with her biography were distant cousins. Although she was granted permission by O'Connor's literary executor to quote from unpublished material for articles she published from 1986 into the 1990s, the family reversed that decision when it came to the book. Paul Mankowski noted in First Things that Cash was refused permission "to quote previously unpublished material, including letters, juvenilia, draft manuscripts, and other essential sources. Such a handicap would be daunting to any biographer; to one engaged in literary biography, it is all but fatal. Cash was obliged to rewrite her text and paraphrase in many places where she had quoted O'Connor directly."

O'Connor (1925-1964) was born Mary Flannery O'Connor, a Roman Catholic, and a very private person, reserved and considered eccentric by some. In reviewing the biography for Appalachian Life online, Julia Beach said that "though she placed value on other people's opinions, she relied on no one to tell her who she was." She suffered from lupus, which resulted in her death from kidney failure at age thirtynine, and spent most of her adult life with her mother on their farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she particularly enjoyed raising chickens. She corresponded frequently with literary friends, received guests, and wrote. Her main source of income came from her lectures. Beach noted that Cash has accumulated an extensive collection of material on O'Connor, including her many letters to and from friends. "Cash manages these correspondences with great clarity and grace," said Beach.

In the first half of the book, Cash follows O'Connor's life chronologically through her years at the University of Iowa, New York, and Connecticut, before she settled in the South for good. In reviewing the book for Southern Scribe online, Elizabeth King Humphrey judged "the most colorfully depicted episodes" to be those where Cash describes O'Connor's time at the Iowa Writers Workshop and the publication of Wise Blood, her first novel.

In the last half of the book, Cash concentrates on O'Connor's writing and artistic achievement prior to her death. Cash also studies O'Connor's attitudes toward regionalism, faith, and sexuality. Cash maintains that the reason O'Connor chose vocation over marriage was because in a time of no birth control, a pregnancy could be fatal. Library Journal contributor Robert L. Kelly commented that "while this is not a critical study, it is the first book to chronicle O'Connor's life in such painstaking detail."



Booklist, August, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Flannery O'Connor: A Life, p. 1910.

First Things, March, 2003, Paul Mankowski, review of Flannery O'Connor, p. 51.

Library Journal, August, 2002, Robert L. Kelly, review of Flannery O'Connor, p. 94.

Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2002, review of Flannery O'Connor, pp. 73-74.


Appalachian Life, (December 4, 2002), Julia Beach, review of Flannery O'Connor.

Southern Scribe, 4, 2002), Elizabeth King Humphrey, review of Flannery O'Connor.

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