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MONROEVILLE: TRUMAN CAPOTE & HARPER LEE

Truman Capote

Truman Capote
(Library of Congress photo)

Harper Lee
Harper Lee

In small town life and in rural life you know your neighbors. Not only do you know everything about your neighbors, but you know everything about them from the time they came to the country. Harper Lee, quoted in Mockingbird, A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields.

Harper Lee lived next door to the cousins Truman Capote came to stay with in her small country town. The Monroeville playmates became, arguably, America's most famous pair of childhood friends. The films Capote and Infamous have established them as one of the country's most complex pairings of collaborative investigators who sought the true story behind the brutal Kansas slayings of Capote's In Cold Blood.

Harper Lee and Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the film "ToKill a Mockingbird" (Courtesy, MCHM)The friendship began on South Alabama Avenue where Harper was raised by her father A.C. Lee, a local attorney who owned the town's newspaper The Monroe Journal. Mr. Lee wrote Truman Capote with his aunt, Mary Ida Carter (Courtesy, MCHM)influential editorials for the Journal and practiced law in the 1903 Courthouse. Capote insisted that he was the model for Dill, Scout's playmate in Mockingbird. In a letter to his friends Alvin and Marie Dewey of August 12, 1960, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and Other Voices, Other Rooms wrote: Nelle's book is high on the best-seller list; she has gone home to Monroeville for a month. And yes, my dear, I am Dill.

Capote was no stranger to best-seller lists either. Monroeville gave him poignant material. Writing Self Portrait in 1972, Capote said, As a child, I lived until I was ten or so with an elderly spinster relative in a rural, remote part of Alabama. Miss Sook Faulk. She herself was not more than twelve years old mentally, which is what accounted for her purity, timidity, her strange, unexpected wisdom. He"Mockingbird" Mural in Monroeville, AL. wrote two stories about Sook: A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor. A historical marker in Monroeville now serves as a guidepost for visitors seeking the Faulk house: a plot of land with the remains of a brick foundation near the historic courthouse square.

The courtroom of the Monroe County Courthouse was meticulously re-created in Hollywood for the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird earning Gregory Peck an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. Finch was named America's number one cinematic hero by the American Film Institute. Thanks to literary masterpieces by Truman Capote and Harper Lee, Monroeville does not seem remote today, though it preserves the rural life of Mockingbird for the book's generations of admirers. The small town of Capote and Lee has been declared Alabama's Literary Capital.

  Monroe County Courthouse and Museum,  Monroeville Alabama. The interior courtroom was meticulously re-created in Hollywood for the film version of "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Truman Capote Historical Marker
 
 

Monroe County Courthouse and Museum, Monroeville Alabama. The interior courtroom was
meticulously re-created in Hollywood for the film version of "To Kill a Mockingbird"
(Courtesy, MCHM)

Truman Capote Historical Marker

 

 

  Encyclopedia of Alabama

For more information on Truman Capote and Harper Lee, link here to their listing in the Encyclopedia of Alabama supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

> Truman Capote
> Harper Lee

Alabama Humanities Foundation  


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