Clearing up Capote

Truman Capote, 1959.

The oft-told rumor that Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffanys on Clarks Island is only slightly more popular than the rumor that he wrote In Cold Blood while there. Which, if either, is right?

In the summer of 1959, the poet Sarah Wingate Taylor (owner of Cedarfield on Clark’s Island) wrote in her daily journal, “I devoured on sight a review of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Capote, from first report of his coming to Clark’s Island, has seemed to me a total anomaly. How could he fit into this quiet land, this island so rich in Nature that it engulfs and drowns the brittle sophistication of which, it seems to me, Capote is a sprig. Yet from Jean and Esther both come expectations that I shall be entertaining Truman Capote at tea.”

Truman Capote stayed on Clark’s Island in the summer of 1959 – a year after the publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The murders that would become the subject of In Cold Blood had yet to take place. Sadly then, we must put to rest the idea that Capote authored either of his most famous works during his summer sojourn here.

Did Sarah Wingate Taylor meet and entertain him? Not really. They saw each other a couple times in passing. One of his dogs got loose and scampered down to Cedarfield and had to be retrieved. During their brief conversation, Capote mentioned that he found the island quiet. Despite both being authors, they seemed to have ignored one another.

Taylor did offer this description, “…a bit about Truman Capote. He will not return, had found Howard’s house cold…the Larson’s grandsons talk with Capote when he suns in the Cove…Capote tells the boys he is writing a book about Russia.” [According to his editor, Capote was working on A Daughter of Russian Revolution, which was never finished]