Alum Will Finish Flannery O'Connor Novel

Alumna Jessica Wilson

Alumna Jessica Wilson

An alumna has been approved by the Flannery O'Connor estate to shepherd the publication of a never-before-published novel by the Southern author.

Witherspoon Fellowship alumna Jessica Wilson, assistant professor of English at John Brown University, has been making waves as a rising star in her field, with works in progress on Walker Percy, Dostoevsky, Flannery O'Connor, and now, this project, for which Jessica will serve as the editor. Its result will be the first-ever publication of one of O'Connor's unfinished works, Why Do the Heathen Rage?.

From the John Brown student newspaper:

It is rare for a professor to have more than one book contract at once. Jessica Wilson, assistant professor of English, has four.

“It’s crazy because it was years of getting rejections,” Wilson said. “Students should keep in mind it took a lot of work and editing to get where I am now. Now all my books are being accepted at once, but it was years in the progress.”

Wilson will be working on the books this year. Her first contract is an extension of her dissertation that examines Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works. It is called “Giving the Devil His Due.”


O’Connor, an esteemed American writer from the mid-20th century, died at age 39, leaving several works unpublished. For the O’Connor book, [Wilson] asked for consent from the O’Connor Estate after one of O’Connor’s friends, Bill Session, recommended Wilson write this book, and the estate assented.

“These upcoming publications will help to secure her status as one of the premiere Christian scholars within the discipline of literature and creative writing,” [English department head Bill] Gambill said. “Dr. Wilson is wise beyond her years and has twice the energy of the average mortal,” he said. “She’s very focused and creative.”

Read the full article: