Author Friend Of Harper Lee: Harper Lee and Truman Capote, two of the most renowned novelists of the twentieth century, were friends as youngsters growing up in the Depression-era Deep South. Their relationship lasted more than two decades after that, during which time they both achieved critical and financial success. However, wild jealousy and their divergent personal lives ultimately brought one of history’s most renowned literary partnerships to a close.
They would go around to various homes and sit in front of them, making up tales about what was going on inside,” Crank recalled her father noticing. “So he got them an Underwood typewriter — a clumsy typewriter, to be sure — but they would wheel that typewriter around to each home and write up the tales there, and then at the end of the day, they would present him with the stories,” says the author.
In addition to having a shared love of reading and having active imaginations, Crank said that they both felt isolated from the rest of their surroundings in their own unique ways.
“Truman was a little man with a lot of self-consciousness… and he was bullied a lot. Because he was plainly not from that neighborhood, Lee “became his defender and beat up the bullies on his behalf,” Crank added, adding that the author was well-known as somewhat of a tomboy, similar to the character Scout in Harper Lee’s bestselling work “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Capote (then known as Truman Persons) was born to a teenage mother and a salesman father and relocated to Monroeville, Alabama when he was four years old to live with his aunt after his parents’ divorce. In little time, he had made the acquaintance of Nelle Harper Lee, the daughter of A.C. Lee, a well-known lawyer, and journalist. A common love of reading brought the young couple together, and they both developed an early interest in writing by collaborating on tales written on a typewriter that Lee’s father had bought for them as a gift.
Capote’s defender, despite the fact that she was two years younger than him, was Lee, who protected the little, very sensitive youngster from the bullies of the neighborhood. Lee would later claim that she and Capote were brought together by “common anguish” over their childhoods, which were marked by the abandonment of Capote by his troubled mother in her quest for financial security, and the mental illness of Lee’s mother, which is now widely recognized as bipolar disorder.
Even when Capote went to New York City to live with his mother when he was a pre-teen, their bond remained strong. In lieu of going to college, the precocious Capote found work at The New Yorker magazine, where he wrote a series of articles that drew the attention of publishers, resulting in the signing of a contract to write his first book. His debut book, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was released in 1948 and is considered to be his best work.
Joel, the primary character, was modeled on Truman Capote. Idabel Tompkins, the tomboy character created by Lee, was a romanticized version of herself. Lee was persuaded by Capote’s early success to go to New York City the following year. It was then that she started writing her own novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which depicted her youth in Alabama and based the character of Dill Harris on Truman Capote.