Truman Capote

Portrait of Truman Capote (1959) Credit: New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer Roger Higgins

“How silly, my dear; don’t you know that if I came here as a child, then most of me never left?”

Truman Capote in Other Voices, Other Rooms

Born Truman Persons in New Orleans in 1924, Truman Capote experienced an unsettled childhood. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mother would later marry Joe Capote, who adopted Truman. For three years and countless shorter periods, he would stay with aunts and cousins in his mother’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Though he would subsequently live in New York and Greenwich, Connecticut with his mother and stepfather, the time spent in Monroeville had a profound influence on Capote. During these visits he developed a friendship with Harper Lee which would last the remainder of his life.

Capote’s interest in writing began early, and in high school he landed a job as copyboy for The New Yorker. It was also during these years that he became enthralled with New York’s café society, often slipping into clubs despite his young age. He began to write short stories, and his first novella Other Voice, Other Rooms was moderately successful critically and commercially. Other Voices, Other Rooms, along with magazine publications of his short stories, drew the attention of the literary world. His fascination with New York’s party scene would reap huge dividends, for it became the inspiration for his 1958 success Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With the tremendous success of In Cold Blood, based on the notorious murders of the Clutter family in Kansas, Capote’s role as a writer was secure. His life was marked by turbulent relationships, however, and he was haunted by the fact that he never received a major literary prize.

Capote died in Los Angeles on August 25, 1984. Both his work and his life remain sources of fascination. Though a fixture among international society and literary circles, in many ways Capote remained the rather insecure little boy of his childhood. His security remained in his Monroeville, Alabama roots. In Monroeville, an historic marker stands where the home of Capote’s relatives once stood, and his legacy is commemorated at the Monroe County Heritage Museum.

Books

  • Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948)
  • A Tree of Night and Other Stories (story collection 1949)
  • Local Color (essay collection 1950)
  • The Grass Harp (1951)
  • ...