Monroeville, Alabama: Looking for traces of ‘Mockingbird’ in Harper Lee’s hometown _lowres

Associated Press photo by Jay Reeves -- The Monroeville, Ala., ruins of the childhood home of author Truman Capote, who inspired the character Dill in Harper Lee's classic novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'

New Orleans has repeatedly played muse to authors born here, like Truman Capote, or lured here, like William Faulkner and Sherwood Anderson. Though none stayed long, the city’s impact on their work was long standing. Anderson first visited New Orleans in 1922 and soon came to live here with his new wife. He was the center of literary and social life for the bohemian crowd in the French Quarter.

He mentored several writers in the city, including a young Mississippi writer, William Faulkner, who moved to New Orleans in 1925. Faulkner first lived with the Andersons and then on Pirate’s Alley, where he wrote the poorly received, “Soldier’s Pay.” Anderson advised Faulkner to return to Mississippi to write what he knew. Anderson himself moved away from New Orleans after about five years here, complaining of the heat and the water running off his back while he worked.

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans as these authors were leaving. He liked to say he was born in the Hotel Montelone, where his mother was living, but he was actually born at Touro Infirmary. When he was young, Capote was sent to live with his aunts in Monroeville, Ala., but returned to New Orleans for summers and holidays. He moved with his mother and her new husband to New York in the 1930s. But Capote came back to New Orleans in 1945 and lived at 811 Royal St. where he wrote part of his first novel. Capote considered New Orleans his hometown, and returned here frequently.