Who’s That Author? Truman Capote

Which Truman Capote do you know? The author who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood? The life of the party and confidante of New York socialites? The host of the famous 1966 Black and White Ball in New York? The frequent guest on The Dick Cavett Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show? He was all of these.

Truman Capote (1924 – 1984) was an American author who wrote fiction, nonfiction and plays. Capote had a big personality and loved to mingle and gossip with high society. A flamboyant dresser with eccentric taste, Capote was open about his homosexuality. He was also a serious writer, dedicated to his craft.

Capote was born in New Orleans. His father was a con-man and his parents separated when he was a toddler. He spent his early years with relatives in Alabama, where he became childhood friends with Harper Lee. When Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, she based the character, Dill, on Capote. Friends for life, Lee would later help him with his research for In Cold Blood.

Capote’s mother remarried in 1933, moved to New York, and Capote joined them. Even with his mother in New York, he felt lonely and abandoned and spent much of his time inventing stories, knowing for certain he would become a writer.

As an adult in New York, Capote worked for the New Yorker and wrote several stories for Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle. His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was published in 1948 and is a semi-autobiographical account of coming to terms with his sexuality.

In Cold Blood, the story of a Kansas family murdered in 1959, won critical acclaim and marked the peak of Capote’s success. It was at this point when he began a life of excess, much of which is documented on his talk show appearances. Capote died at age fifty-nine, leaving behind a great collection of work for modern readers to study.

Selected other works by Truman Capote:
The Grass Harp (1951)
A Christmas Memory (1966)
House of Flowers (1968)
Answered Prayers: the Unfinished Novel (1987)

Check out these memorable talk show appearances!
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 1
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 2

Thanks to the following sources:
Encyclopedia of Alabama
Truman Capote on imdb.com

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is an excellent fictionalized account of Capote and his famous socialite swans.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


20 thoughts on “Who’s That Author? Truman Capote

    1. Yes, I was unsure about wanting to read it, but I am going to get to it this year. One of our book clubs at the library where I work read it last year. I think it’s so interesting that Capote could write both fiction and nonfiction so well. Thanks for reading, Jill. Have a great day!

  1. Barbara, I enjoyed this brief history of Capote – I’ve read In Cold Blood many times – brilliantly researched and written. A difficult topic but compelling and a masterpiece.

    1. I haven’t read In Cold Blood yet, but I plan to get to it soon. I’ve read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and House of Flowers. I just requested La Cote Basque 1964 from the library and I’m going to get it today. That’s the story that ended his friendship with all the socialite swans! Thanks for reading and commenting, Annika!

  2. It’s fascinating to me that Truman Capote and Harper Lee were lifelong friends from childhood — he, the flamboyant extrovert who seemed to thrive on attention and fame, and she the near-recluse by comparison — and both with such lyrical, heart-piercing writing voices. Almost makes you wonder about the idea of twin souls.

    1. That’s so true, Jan. I have always been interested in this friendship and until recently, I did not know that Lee helped Capote with all his research for In Cold Blood. She traveled with him to Kansas. I’m not sure about Lee, but I think Capote needed the attention to fill the void his mother created. His sad childhood had a huge impact on his writing and his life. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Truman Capote is such a force of a personality it’s hard not to be fascinated by him. I haven’t read In Cold Blood, but did enjoy Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and now I have that song going through my head). Thanks for the informative post!!

  4. After In Cold Blood, I had to read more of his work! Another author whose childhood strongly informed his writing and style…

    1. Yes, so true. If you haven’t watched any of his talk show appearances, take a look. He was a fascinating guest, especially along with Groucho Marx. They disliked each other immediately. Also, in one interview he talks about writing and creative talent and whether that can be taught. Very interesting. Thanks for stopping by, Noelle.

  5. I find that Truman Capote is a bit of an unsung hero! We don’t hear anything anymore really about him! Thanks for this post Book Club Mom x

  6. Reblogged this on Book Club Mom and commented:

    I just finished reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a book Capote termed a “nonfiction novel,” based on the 1959 murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Capote, with his childhood friend, Harper Lee, researched the story and Capote wrote what is considered his masterpiece. While I work on my review, here’s some background information about Truman Capote.

Comments are closed.