Author Flannery O’Connor Captured on Film at Age 5, with Her Chickens

In 1961, Flan­nery O’Con­nor wrote an essay called “Liv­ing with a Pea­cock,” which begins like this:

When I was five, I had an expe­ri­ence that marked me for life. Pathé News sent a pho­tog­ra­ph­er from New York to Savan­nah to take a pic­ture of a chick­en of mine. This chick­en, a buff Cochin Ban­tam, had the dis­tinc­tion of being able to walk either for­ward or back­ward. Her fame has spread through the press and by the time she reached the at­tention of Pathé News, I sup­pose there was nowhere left for her to go—forward or back­ward. Short­ly after that she died, as now seems fit­ting.

If I put this infor­ma­tion in the begin­ning of an arti­cle on pea­cocks, it is because I am always being asked why I raise them, and I have no short or rea­son­able answer.

From that day with the Pathé man I began to col­lect chick­ens. What had been only a mild inter­est became a pas­sion, a quest. I had to have more and more chick­ens. I favored those with one green eye and one orange or with over-long necks and crooked combs. I want­ed one with three legs or three wings but noth­ing in that line turned up. I pon­dered over the pic­ture in Robert Ripley’s book, Believe It Or Not, of a roost­er that had sur­vived for thir­ty days with­out his head; but I did not have a sci­en­tif­ic tem­pera­ment . I could sew in a fash­ion and I began to make clothes for chick­ens. A gray ban­tam named Colonel Egg­bert wore a white piqué coat with a lace col­lar and two but­tons in the back. Appar­ent­ly Pathé News nev­er heard of any of these oth­er chick­ens of mine; it nev­er sent anoth­er pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

Now you have the back­sto­ry for the video above — the young girl caught on film, tend­ing to her chick­ens, many years before she wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (lis­ten to her read it here) and oth­er sto­ries. Thanks goes to Josh for flag­ging this for us.…

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