This Goodly Land

Fannie Flagg (September 21, 1941–present)

Other Names Used

Alabama Connections

Selected Works

Literary Awards

Biographical Information

Fannie Flagg was born and raised in Irondale, a suburb of Birmingham, Ala. As a child, she wanted to become a writer, but she had problems in school due to undiagnosed dyslexia. Flagg began acting at age fourteen with a Birmingham theater group. She changed her name at seventeen when she registered with Actors' Equity, since there was another actress named Patricia Neal. Flagg attended the University of Alabama and the Pittsburgh Playhouse drama school. When she returned from Pittsburgh, she co-hosted a morning television program in Birmingham. In 1965, Flagg moved to New York, where she wrote and performed for Upstairs at the Downstairs Club. She was recruited to write for and appear in the television program Candid Camera. Flagg went on to make comedy albums, act in television, in movies, and on the stage, and appear as a regular on the television game show Match Game.

In 1978, Flagg won first prize at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference with a short story that became the basis for her first novel, Coming Attractions. After her parents’ deaths in 1980, she decided to quit acting and write full-time. When the original screenwriter for the movie version of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe became ill, Flagg finished it, although the process took her three years. Flagg continues to write novels and divides her time between her homes in California, New York, and Alabama. In 2001, the Alabama State Council on the Arts selected her for its Distinguished Artist Award.

Interests and Themes

Fannie Flagg writes novels about small-town American life. Her books feature strong female characters and frequently call attention to racial and gender inequities. Several of her books have Alabama settings.

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Photo courtesy of Random House.

Last updated on May 30, 2008.

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