Vidal, Gore, 1925-2012

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1925-10-03
Death 2012-07-31
Americans
French, German, Spanish; Castilian, Italian, English

Biographical notes:

Gore Vidal was born in 1925 to Eugene Vidal and Nina Gore Vidal. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1943 and went on to serve in the Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army and as an officer in the Army Transportation Corps in the Aleutian Islands. Vidal published eight novels between 1946 and 1954 including The Judgment of Paris, Messiah, and The City and the Pillar, the latter among the first overtly gay novels in the history of American fiction. He published three mystery novels under the pen name of Edgar Box: Death in the Fifth Position, Death before Bedtime, and Death Likes it Hot. Vidal turned to writing scripts for television, including the original teleplay Visit to a Small Planet (later adapted into a Broadway play). Other of his credits include The Catered Affair, I Accuse!, and Suddenly Last Summer, as well as work on the script of Ben Hur. His acting credits include such films as Bob Roberts.

From the description of Judgment of Paris manuscript page, 1951. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 285613994

Gore Vidal, playwright.

From the description of The best man: typescript, n.d. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122615353

Gore Vidal (1925- ) is an American author of novels, theatrical plays, television scripts, screenplays, and essays whose career began in the years immediately following World War II and continues into the twenty-first century. He has also been a public, sometimes controversial, figure in American politics. In addition to a sequence of seven novels about American history, and novels he refers to as "inventions" such as Myra Breckinridge and Duluth, he has also written three mystery novels under the pseudonym, Edgar Box. GV is also well-known as an essayist as he has composed well over a hundred essays, gathered in several volumes published between 1962 and 2001.

From the description of Papers, 1875-2004 (inclusive), 1936-2000 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612846827

Gore Vidal was born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal in West Point, New York, on October 3, 1925, to Eugene Luther and Nina Vidal. Vidal shortened his name during his teen years to honor his maternal grandfather. After his parents divorced, Vidal lived with his mother and her new husband in northern Virginia and attended a series of boarding schools.

After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1943, Vidal joined the U.S. Army Reserve at age 17. Vidal wrote his first novel, Williwaw (1946), while in the hospital recovering from hypothermia. After being discharged from the army, Vidal went to work as an editor for E. P. Dutton and published his second novel, In a Yellow Wood (1947).

Vidal moved to a small house in Antigua, Guatemala, where he finished his next novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), whose homosexual theme was controversial. Many fellow authors praised Vidal's book while several critics and reviewers lambasted the work; the New York Times refused to review the work for almost 10 years.

Vidal traveled between Europe and New York for a period, publishing many works that were well received abroad, including A Search for the King (1950), Dark Green, Bright Red (1950), The Judgment of Paris (1952), and Messiah (1954). Despite his success abroad, Vidal's work was continuously ignored by the American press.

Vidal started writing mystery novels under the pseudonym of Edgar Box, and the Box novels were generally well received by American readers. Vidal then turned to television as a new medium and would go on to write 20 teledramas. Vidal accepted an offer from MGM to see how movies were made in the old studio system, and whilst in Hollywood wrote screenplays for several films.

Vidal's mother divorced his stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, in the 1940s. Auchincloss remarried to Janet Lee Bouvier, whose daughter Jacqueline moved into Vidal's old room. When Jacqueline married John F. Kennedy later in life, Kennedy was excited to meet his wife's famous literary connection. Vidal's experiences with the backstage workings of the 1960 Democratic National Convention later inspired him to write the screenplay The Best Man (1964). After a brief stint in the political world, Vidal moved to Italy to escape the constricting Washington D.C. atmosphere and to work on his latest novel, Julian (1964).

Vidal experimented with many types of literary genres, writing works as varied as Washington D.C. (1967), the controversial Myra Breckinridge (1968), many novels concerning American history, and several satires including Duluth (1983).

Vidal has written two volumes of memoirs, Palimpsest (1995) and Point to Point Navigation (2006). While Vidal has mostly given up writing large novels, he continues to write essays, political speeches, and still makes public speeches.

From the guide to the Gore Vidal Collection, 1946-1970, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center)

Gore Vidal (1925- ) (referred to as GV in this finding aid) is an American author of novels, theatrical plays, television scripts, screenplays, and essays whose career began in the years immediately following World War II and continues into the twenty-first century. He has also been a public, sometimes controversial, figure in American politics. In addition to a sequence of seven novels about American history, and novels he refers to as "inventions" such as Myra Breckinridge and Duluth, he has also written three mystery novels under the pseudonym, Edgar Box. GV is also well-known as an essayist as he has composed well over a hundred essays, gathered in several volumes published between 1962 and 2001.

  • 1925: GV is born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal born in West Point (N.Y.), the only child of Eugene Luther Vidal (1901-1969) and Nina Gore (1903-1978), later known as Nina Olds. His birth takes place at the Cadet Hospital of the United States Military Academy where his father was the school's first aeronautics instructor.
  • 1935: Parents divorce. Nina Gore marries Hugh D. Auchincloss (who divorces NG in 1941). Nina Gore has two children from that marriage, Nina Auchincloss (later known as Nina Auchincloss Steers Straight) and Thomas G. Auchincloss. After the divorce, Hugh Auchincloss marries Jacqueline Kennedy's mother, Janet Lee Auchincloss, which establishes a relationship between the Vidal and Kennedy clans.
  • 1936: GV attends St. Albans School in Washington (D.C.). He lives with his maternal grandfather, Thomas Pyror Gore (1870-1949), in T.P. Gore's home in Rock Creek Park (Washington, D.C.). T.P. Gore was the Democratic senator from Oklahoma. Since Senator Gore was blind, the young GV reads aloud to him and becomes his guide in the Senate corridors.
  • 1939: GV attends Los Alamos Ranch School in Los Alamos County (N.M.). Eugene Luther Vidal (GV's father) marries Katherine Roberts. E.L. Vidal has two children from that marriage, Gene Vance Vidal and Valerie Vidal.
  • 1940: GV attends Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter (N.H.).
  • 1941: GV drops the names "Eugene Luther" to become Gore Vidal.
  • 1942: Nina Auchincloss marries Robert Olds, director of Wright Air Force Base.
  • 1943: GV enlists in the United States Army and attends the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington (Va.)
  • 1945: GV writes his first novel,Williwaw, during the time he is in service in the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) and while recovering from a combination of frostbite and arthritis in an army hospital.
  • 1946: GV moves to Antigua (Guatemala). His friend Anaïs Nin visits.
  • 1948: Tennessee Williams and GV travel in Europe. The city and the pillar is published.
  • 1950: GV moves to Barrytown (N.Y.) and buys a home named Edgewater on the Hudson River. GV meets his life companion, Howard Austen (former name: Howard Auster), who works for an advertising agency in New York (N.Y.). Austen moves to Edgewater.
  • 1955: GV's A visit to a small planet is broadcast live on television. He moves to the Chateau Marmont (Los Angeles, Calif.) where he becomes friends with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
  • 1959: As a contract writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, GV agrees to work with the director William Wyler on the screenplay for the film, Ben-Hur. Vidal agrees to rework the script on condition that MGM will let him out of the last two years of his contract.
  • 1960: GV's play The best man opens on Broadway. GV is a candidate for Congress in New York's 29th Congressional District losing the election by a small margin.
  • 1963: GV and Howard Austen (HA) move to Rome (Italy).
  • 1964: Julian is published.
  • 1966: Washington D.C. is published; the first novel in what GV calls his "narratives of empire" series.
  • 1968: Myra Breckinridge is published. ABC News hires GV and William F. (William Frank) Buckley as political analysts of the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. A heated exchange between Buckley and GV occurrs during a televised debate on ABC on 22 August 1968 during the Democratic National Convention (1968: Chicago, Ill.). This later produces a civil action.
  • 1970: GV becomes chairman of the New Party (U.S.) for two years.
  • 1971: GV purchases a home, La Rondinaia, in Ravello (Italy).
  • 1972: Burr is published.
  • 1976: 1876 is published.
  • 1982: GV runs in the California primary race for Senate. He comes in second after Jerry Brown.
  • 1984: Lincoln is published.
  • 1987: Empire is published.
  • 1993: United States: Essays, 1952-1992 is published and wins the National Book Award.
  • 1995: GV's memoir, Palimpsest, is published.
  • 2000: The Golden Age, the last novel in GV's "Narratives of Empire" series, is published.
  • 2003: GV and HA move from their home in Ravello (Italy) to their home in California. Howard Austen passes away.
  • 2006: GV sells his home in Ravello (Italy).

From the guide to the Gore Vidal papers, 1875-2004 (inclusive), 1936-2000 (bulk)., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

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Ark ID:
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SNAC ID:
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Subjects:

  • Popular culture--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Presidents--Drama
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Fan mail
  • Historical fiction, American
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Gay men--Fiction
  • Authors and publishers

Occupations:

  • Actors

Places:

  • England (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Alaska--Aleutian Islands (as recorded)