The final typescript for Truman Capote’s famed 1958 Breakfast at Tiffany’s found a winning buyer for £377,000 ($485,500) in a Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts auction in London on Tuesday. The edition achieved more than double its presale estimate of £120,000–£180,000 to lead the $1.8 million auction.
Featuring the author’s more than 150 edits, the 84-page document, first submitted to Random House in May 1958, was last sold at Boston’s RR auction in April 2013 for $306,667; here, it garnered 16 bids total. According to the Sotheby’s description of the lot, this version is the first to name the iconic protagonist Holly Golightly, who until then was known as Connie Gustafson. Few literary manuscripts of the same caliber attributed to Capote remain in private hands. Another draft resides in the writer’s archive at the Library of Congress.
“The character of Holly Golightly is of course the heart of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the most striking change made by Capote in this draft relates to her,” said Dr. Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts, in a statement following the sale. “Undoubtedly one of the great names of modern comedy, it is as magnificently implausible as its owner and connects to her character in a number of ways: ‘Golightly’ reflects the lightness with which she treats the world, her lack of attachment to place, and perhaps hints at promiscuity; whilst ‘Holly’ will prickle if you get too close.”
Sotheby’s catalogue entry includes Capote’s explanation of his fleeting protagonist. “She was such a symbol of all these girls who come to New York and spin in the sun for a moment like May flies and then disappear,” said Capote in a Playboy interview. “I wanted to rescue one girl from that anonymity and preserve her for prosperity.”