@include_once('client.php'); In Celebration of His Life & Work » Biography


Philip F. O’Connor is the author of several widely praised works of fiction.

But before all that he cared most about being a father and a teacher. He was also the son of Irish immigrant parents - John and Josephine. In his life and work, he refused much praise, took himself out of the running for prizes and devoted much time to encouraging and uplifting others. He championed the flawed and imperfect people in life, the kind not likely to pick up headlines. He saw their small victories and gave them voice. He loved telling stories and he cherished every one, every dialogue you could recall and every nuance. In his time he inspired generations of students to discover their talents, their imaginations. 

His first, a collection of stories, Old Morals, Small Continents, Darker Times (University of Iowa Press), won the Iowa School of Letters Award in Short Fiction and is in its third printing. His second, A Season for Unnatural Causes (U, of Illinois Press), helped inaugurate the University of Illinois’s Short Fiction Series. His first novel, Stealing Home (Knopf), was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and an American Book Award nominee for the best first novel. A novella, Ohio Woman (Bottom Dog Press), followed in a limited edition and received many favorable comments. His novel, Defending Civilization (Weidenfeld and Nicholson), brought enthusiastic praise and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His novel, Finding Brendan (Simon & Schuster), received similar praise and was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His many stories and story collections received only favorable reviews. His works have optioned to film and television. His work continues and his imaginative writings and publications will have voice.

He developed the third M.F.A. graduate program in Creative Writing in the U.S. which has produced numerous celebrated writers and was made Bowling Green University’s fourth Distinguished Professor ever. He fought for and helped win the MFA as a terminal degree from the critics of the world. He has judged numerous literary awards and multiple times has been a member of the Pulitzer prize Fiction Jury. In 1995 he was chair of the Pulitzer Jury, and the following year turned down the chance to be the first repeat-chair.

His loving children are: Dondi, John, Chris, Erin, Justin, Hanlon and Ingrid. His grandchildren are Nicholas and Kathryn, Jack, Colin, Rylan and Brynn. His brother John J. O’Connor and Peg Vollert stood with him in his final weeks and months and loved him dearly. After he left BGSU, he moved back and lived near his childhood home in San Anselmo, California, the site of so many of his early and celebrated stories.


This is from Bowling Green State University - very nice - see more on the links page:

Philip F. O’Connor was born in San Francisco, California on December 3, 1932, the oldest of three children of John Joseph and Josephine (Browne) O’Connor. He attended St. Ignatius Preparatory School and earned a B. S. at the University of San Francisco in 1954. During his army service, he was stationed in England and was honorably discharged as a second lieutenant. Returning to his home town, he worked as a journalist for the San Francisco News and taught high school English for four years, as well as working at a variety of odd jobs while he earned a Master of Arts degree in English from San Francisco State College in 1961. He decided on a career as a professional writer, and earned an M.F.A. from the Creative Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1963. That same year he married Delores Doster. Their children were Dondi, John, Chris, Erin, and Justin. The couple divorced in 1978.

O’Connor taught English at Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, New York from 1963-1967, all the while publishing his short stories in the best literary magazines and building a reputation as a fine prose craftsman. In 1967, Frederick Eckman invited O’Connor to Bowling Green State University to establish a degree-granting Creative Writing Program at this institution. Here he spent his academic career, serving as director of the program and as writer in residence, conducting workshops in the novel and short story. In 1989 his efforts and service were recognized when he was named Distinguished University Professor.

While at Bowling Green, O’Connor continued his own writing. He published two collections of short stories, the first, Old Morals, Small Continents, Darker Times, won the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction in 1971. A second collection, A Season for Unnatural Causes, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1975. During this period, O’Connor shifted his focus from the short story to the novel. He published Stealing Home (nominated as the American Book Awards Best First Novel, winning the Nancy Dasher Award for Best Ohio Fiction Writer of the Year, and chosen as a Book of the Month Club alternate selection) in 1979; Ohio Woman (which won an Ohioana Award) in 1985; Defending Civilization (winning the McNaughton Award and nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award in 1988), and Finding Brendan in 1991. Each of his books has been released to critical acclaim.

All this was accomplished while O’Connor continued to conduct classes and participate in the life of the university. He worked tirelessly as a member of two Pulitzer Award committees, meeting and speaking with literary groups, high school students, and as a visiting writer at other universities. He married Martha Larson in 1994 and retired from teaching duties to write full time.