Harper Lee Reveals What Ruined Friendship With Capote

In 2006 letter, she calls her longtime friend a 'compulsive' liar
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2017 4:35 PM CDT
Harper Lee Calls Truman Capote 'Compulsive' Liar
In a 2006 letter to a friend, Harper Lee called Truman Capote a "compulsive" liar who destroyed their friendship with his jealousy.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

In the soon-to-be published contents of a decade-old letter, Harper Lee accused her "oldest friend," Truman Capote, of being an inveterate liar who destroyed their friendship with his jealousy. Wayne Flynt, an Alabama historian and longtime friend of Lee's in his own right, is publishing a book next week about his quarter-century relationship with the To Kill a Mockingbird author, the New York Times reports. According to AL.com, Flynt was one of a handful of people still allowed to visit Lee after she moved into a nursing home in the final years of her life. Flynt tells the Times that Lee, who removed herself from public life in the 1960s, only told him not to write about her while she was alive.

Capote and Lee had been writing partners for years, and she even based a character in To Kill a Mockingbird on him, Bustle reports. But in a 2006 letter to Flynt, Lee said of Capote: "His compulsive lying was like this: If you said, 'Did you know JFK was shot?' He'd easily answer, 'Yes, I was driving the car he was riding in.'" She also said that while their friendship was strained by Capote's drinking and "misery," it was ultimately ruined by jealousy. "I did something Truman could not forgive: I wrote a novel that sold," she wrote. "He nursed his envy for more than 20 years." To Kill a Mockingbird has sold more than 40 million copies. Flynt's Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship With Harper Lee will be released May 2. (More Harper Lee stories.)

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