Capote, Truman (käpōˈtē) [key], 1924–84, American author, b. New Orleans as Truman Streckfus Persons. During his lifetime, the witty, diminutive writer was a well-known public personage, hobnobbing with the rich and famous and frequently appearing in the popular media, before he lapsed into alcoholism in his final years. Capote's fiction reflects a private, imaginative world of narcissistic yet strangely innocent people. Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), his first novel and a classic Southern Gothic, is the story of a young boy's painful search for identity. His other works include a gentle autobiographical novel, The Grass Harp (1951); a collection of short stories, Tree of Night (1949); the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958); a report of his trip to Russia with the cast of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, The Muses Are Heard (1956); the musical House of Flowers (1954); and two collections of nonfiction pieces, The Dogs Bark (1973) and Music for Chameleons (1980). In 1966, Capote published his "nonfiction novel," In Cold Blood, a chilling account of the senseless, brutal murder of a Kansas family that is widely considered his finest work. Fragments of his last major book, the unfinished Unanswered Prayers, were collected in 1990. The Complete Stories of Truman Capote was published in 2004.
See N. T. Inge, ed., Truman Capote: Conversations (1987); L. Grobel, Conversations with Capote (1985, repr. 2000); G. Clarke, ed., Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote (2004); memoirs by D. Windham (1983), J. M. Brinnin (1986), and J. Dunphy (1987); biographies by G. Clarke (1988), G. Plimpton (1997), and W. T. Schultz (2011); studies by H. S. Garson (1980 and 1992), K. T. Reed (1981), J. J. and J. C. Waldmeir, ed. (1999), and H. Bloom, ed. (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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