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Betty Hester, "A" and Flannery O'Connor


Flannery O'Connor and Betty Hester became acquainted when Hester wrote to O'Connor in the summer of 1955. O'Connor responded to Hester stating she was pleased that Hester interpreted her writing in the manner in which she had written it.

Hester became known as "A" in 1979 when The Habit of Being was published by Sally Fitzgerald. Hester's name was replaced with an "A" for anonymous. It is believed that Betty Hester wished to remain anonymous because she was a very private person, and did not wish to discuss her friendship with O'Connor scholars.  

From 1979 to 1998 the identity of O'Connor's close friend and correspondent, "A," was shrouded in mystery for O'Connor scholars. In 1998, after a long battle with depression, Hester took her own life and her identity was released to the public.

Betty Hester made frequent trips to visit O'Connor at Andalusia. O'Connor and Hester shared many thing in common including their love for reading and writing. Although she never published any of her stories, Hester shared her writing with O'Connor. Hester was also Catholic and wrote book reviews for a Catholic Magazine called The Bulletin, as did O'Connor. The women were mutual friends with Leo Zuber, The Bulletin's book section editor. In a startling letter dated October 1961, O'Connor wrote to Zuber saddened by the news that Hester had left the Catholic Church.

Hester and O'Connor remained friends and corresponded until O'Connor's death in 1964. It is through the correspondence with Hester published in The Habit of Being that scholars are able to get a clear view of O'Connor's thoughts on writing and her Catholic beliefs.

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