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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

February 2, 2009

Truman Capote and To Kill A Mockingbird

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 4:28 pm

The young Truman Capote was the model for Scout’s friend Dill in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  Capote, a child from a broken home, was often pawned off on his relatives in Monroeville, Alabama, especially in the summers.  Nelle Harper Lee lived just down the street and she and Truman became fast friends and their exploits became the basis for many of the childhood scenes in To Kill A Mockingbird.  Capote and Harper Lee remained friends when they both moved to NY to pursue writing careers.  Capote’s took off first through short stories, and when asked by the New Yorker to cover a murder trial in Nebraska, Harper Lee joined Truman in journeying to Nebraska to conduct interviews about the horrible murder of a farm family.  This would become Capote’s most celebrated work, In Cold Blood.  Over the years there have been rumors that Capote may have written part or all of To Kill A Mockingbird.  It does resemble some of his short stories. Lee admits he read the novel and made suggestions for cuts, but most scholars agree that all of To Kill A Mockingbird belongs to Harper Lee and Capote had no hand in it.  If anything, it was Harper Lee’s assistance on Capote’s In Cold Blood that deserves credit.  Lee accompanied Capote on three trips to Nebraska,  prepared over 150 pages of notes and assisted Capote with several drafts over the four year’s of In Cold Blood’s development, and yet Capote made no mention of her contribution to this classic work.  

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