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Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty and Katherine Anne Porter
Of the Southern women writers who helped to pioneer the southern gothic literary tradition, the four majors were Carson McCullers, short-storytellers Flannery O'Connor and Katherine Anne Porter, and novelist Eudora Welty. Interestingly, they were all contemporaries, born around the same time and publishing major works in the 1940s and '50s. McCullers and O'Connor both died fairly young while Porter lived until 1980 and Welty to the ripe age of 90, dying in 2001.

Despite their closeness in age and some similarities in their themes and writing styles, the four were not close or particularly supportive of each other. McCullers met Porter on her first visit to Yaddo artist's colony, and they initially struck up a friendship that eroded when Porter and Welty became close in the mid-1940s. To some degree, all four writers were vying for a similar spot in literary infamy—a spot that at that time must have seemed rather limited: they were women from the seemingly unsophisticated South. Part of the intrigue of their legacy is that all of them did find success, and a lasting place in the annals of American literature and hearts of their readers.