New Orleans, La.
Truman Capote home
214 Royal Street
A suite in this elegant, historic hotel at the edge of the French Quarter was the first home of Truman Streckfus Persons (later Capote) after his birth in 1924. Truman’s mother was a 16-year-old beauty queen, his father a traveling salesman, and the boy’s first years were spent in a variety of hotel rooms. When his parents went out, Truman recalled later, they locked him in the hotel room alone.
Truman’s parents were ill-matched and divorced after only a few years, leaving young Truman to the care of different eccentric maternal relative in Monroeville, Ala., where his childhood best friend was Harper Lee. His creative imagination was forged early on. “By the time I was ten,” he remembered as an adult, “I was sitting up all night long to write.” He was also already putting himself to sleep by taking a few swigs of whiskey.
Capote first achieved literary recognition in his early 20s with a number of critically acclaimed short stories in major publications. He wrote much of his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), the story of a young homosexual Southerner, while living in a rented room in New Orleans, also on Royal Street. His subject matter was considered scandalous and offensive, and a reviewer in The New York Times complained, “The distasteful trappings of its homosexual theme overhang it like Spanish moss.” Capote went on to an active literary career anyway – his most famous works included Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and In Cold Blood (1966) – though one that was marred by alcoholism and ill health.