"'you didn't make that writing course.'"
A book of Frank O'Connor's short stories
Creative Commons AttributionA book of Frank O'Connor's short stories - Credit: Chris Drumm, Flickr

In the summer of 1953, on her return home from her guest editorship with Mademoiselle, Sylvia Plath heard that she had not gained a place on Frank O'Connor's short-story writing course at Harvard University.

In Letters Home (p.123), her mother describes 'the look of shock and utter despair' that passed over her face when she gave her the news.

Frank O'Connor (1903-1966), whose full name was Michael Francis O'Connor O'Donovan, was a prolific Irish short-story writer whose work was often published in The New Yorker magazine.

During the 1950's he spent a great deal of time in the United states where he taught at various universities including Harvard and Northwestern.