Hey Blake,

I heard that Truman Capote lived in New Orleans. What did he do here and where did he hang out?

New to town

Dear New,

  Truman Capote, a celebrated screenwriter, playwright and author of several books, including In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's, was born in New Orleans in 1924. His version of his childhood is bleak, with him recalling his mother's neglect and sometimes being locked in his suite at the Hotel Monteleone, his first residence. The hotel later named a suite in his honor. Capote also told of being lost at Mardi Gras when he was 5 years old and spending the night at the police station.

  At a young age, Capote was sent to live with his aunts in Monroeville, Alabama, where he met Harper Lee, who later wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. During the summers and holidays of his youth, Capote returned to New Orleans. In the 1930s, he joined his mother and new stepfather in New York City.

  Capote began to publish stories in the early 1940s, and returned to New Orleans in 1945. He rented an apartment at 811 Royal St., where he wrote parts of his first novel Other Voices, Other Rooms, which was published in 1948.

  Capote later visited New Orleans as a retreat from the pressures of fame, prompted by Breakfast at Tiffany's and the success of its Hollywood film starring Audrey Hepburn. In a 1981 interview with People magazine, he said, "I get seized by a mood and I go. I stay a few weeks and I read and write and walk around. It's like a hometown to me." During this interview, Capote mentioned favorite spots including St. Louis Cathedral, the Caribbean Room at the Pontchartrain Hotel, a local cemetery and the Bourbon Street burlesque club Gunga Den. In his essay "New Orleans 1946," included in the essay collection Portraits and Observations (2007), Capote called New Orleans "a secret place" and described characters and scenes from the French Quarter he knew in his early 20s.

  Capote died in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 1984.