George Marion O'Donnell was born on Silver Home Plantation, Midnight, Mississippi,
January 21, 1914 and educated at Belzoni High School (1928-1932), Memphis
State College (1932-1934), Vanderbilt University (A.B., 1936, M.A., 1939).
In 1936 and 1937 he was engaged in managing his grandmother's plantation in
Belzoni following the death of his uncle. At Vanderbilt in the early 30's
O'Donnell became a disciple of the Agrarian School, and of the school of Southern
New Critics then in process of formation. By the early forties he had founded
a literary reputation on the basis of a small but distinguished body of poetry,
fiction, and criticism, particularly concerning William Faulkner. For a select
bibliography, 1935-1947, see the collection folder.
O'Donnell followed a teaching career: Fellow in Creative Writing, Vanderbilt,
1939-1940; Instructor, Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1941-1943, Assistant
Professor, 1943-1945; Guest Instructor, Harvard, 1945-1947; Assistant Professor,
Louisiana State University, 1947-1949; Professor, Oglethorpe University, 1949-1957.
O'Donnell never fulfilled his early literary promise. In 1957 he moved
to New Haven, Connecticut where he remained until his death in 1962. For a
commentary on O'Donnell's career, see “O'Donnell's Wall” by John Hazard Wildman
( The Southern Review, Autumn, 1970). [Photocopy
in collection folder]