We all know Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and its film adaptation with the incomparable Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, but Capote’s final typescript, which is up for auction, shows that Holly Golightly was almost not Holly Golightly, rather Connie Gustafson.
It was a good thing, that the name was changed, as ‘Connie Gustafson’ doesn’t really flow like Holly Golightly. “Holly Golightly is such a magnificent name – it is instantly memorable. It is also a great comic name in itself, and, as with all comic characters, the name is an extremely important element,” said Sotheby’s books specialist Gabriel Heaton.
The original name does not have the same ring to it – it does not trill off the tongue in the same way or capture the character. We all remember the name Holly Golightly, it sticks long after turning the final page of the book or switching off the film as the credits roll.
The typescript is filled with Capote’s handwritten edits, and with some sexual content being taken out including a rather saucy discussion between Holly and her roommate Mag Wildwood. Capote was afraid that the book might not sell as well if there was sexually explicit content. He was right, as Harper’s Bazaar canceled the publication over it. It was then sold to Esquire and made into a book by Random House.
The titular movie was made soon after that, with even more edits including taking out of Capote’s references to his homosexuality. The typescript has an estimated price of £120,000 to £180,000.
Although out of reach for many of us, the final typescript shows just how Capote was able to create his masterpiece, with details showing what could have been, and how it came to be the story we all know and love.