Truman Capote final working draft of Breakfast at Tiffany's up at auction

  • AMHERST, New Hampshire
  • /
  • April 24, 2013

  • Email
Envelope from Random House to Truman Capote.
RR Auction

Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the most enduring and influential pieces of literature, despite its less than auspicious beginning.

In the fall of 1958, the world was slated to receive the debut of New York sophisticate, Connie Gustafson. However, Connie Gustafson never made her debut— she was replaced by the icon the world knows as Holly Golightly.

A rare 86-page typed manuscript of Breakfast at Tiffany's with hand annotations by Truman Capote will be featured at auction, from New Hampshire based RR Auction in April.

The breathtaking manuscript presents a rare chance to visit the mind of a literary master, whose most influential, last second change to the manuscript was to rewrite his heroine’s name from the dreary Connie Gustafson the now iconic Holly Golightly.

Capote culled his inspiration for his heroine from his intimate friendships with New York society's finest, including heiress and designer Gloria Vanderbilt and Oona O'Neill, daughter of American playwright Eugene O'Neill and wife of Charlie Chaplin.

Breakfast at Tiffany's manuscript is offered at RR Auction in New Hampshire.
RR Auction

Purchased for $2000 by Harper's Bazaar with the intent of serialization, the publication was tabled by Hearst Publishers who felt that Capote's novella was too sexually explicit for their readers.

Rejected by Harper's, Breakfast at Tiffany's was then purchased by Esquire for $3000 and was published in serial form concurrently with Random House's full novella. It was extremely well received, Capote's celebrity status was solidified, and Holly Golightly was headed for the silver screen.

"Harper's was absolutely up in arms about the risqué subject matter, the sexuality of its characters, and the profane language throughout," says Bobby Livingston, Vice President of RR Auctions. "It was a truly a controversial piece of literature and has earned and held its place in literary history."

Having escaped a poor and unremarkable childhood in the South, the charismatic Holly relocated to New York and reinvented herself to enjoy the lifestyle to which she believed she should become accustomed. Unscrupulous and unemployed, her only income came from the numerous wealthy men whose company she kept.

The novella's prose style prompted Norman Mailer to call Capote "the most perfect writer of [his] generation," adding that he "would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Livingston adds, "Capote seemingly disagreed and, in fact, took great effort to painstakingly change two repeated words throughout his manuscript. The two words he changed were 'Connie Gustafson'."

In addition to the brilliant name change, which is hand-notated by Capote over 150 times throughout the text, there are hundreds of important annotations and revisions, many quite lengthy. On the first page of the manuscript, Capote hand titles it “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” makes several witty one-word revisions, and rewrites an entire sentence, adding “everything I needed, so I felt to become the writer I wanted to be.”

Capote's typed manuscript of Breakfast at Tiffany's goes up for auction April 18 - April 25, and is expected to sell for well into the six figures. For more information go to


  • Email

ARTFIXdaily Artwire