Gore Vidal Biography
During Gore Vidal's six decade career he has written many novels, essays,
television plays and film scripts. He was born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal in
1925 at the United States Military Academy at West Point where his father, Gene
Vidal, was an aeronautics instructor. As a teenager he adopted the first
name of Gore. His parents divorced in 1935, and his mother married Hugh
Auchincloss, hence Gore Vidal acquired a stepfather in common with Jacqueline
Kennedy. He spent much of his childhood in Washington with his blind
grandfather, Senator Thomas Pryor Gore of Oklahoma from whom Vidal learned the
ins and outs of political life. After graduating from Phillips Exeter
Academy in New Hampshire, where he was considered a mediocre student, he joined
the United States Army Reserve Corps and served on army transports in the
Aleutian Islands in World War II.
His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was nineteen years old and
serving in the Army, appeared in the spring of 1946. It was was based on
his wartime experiences as first mate on Freight Ship 35 in the Alaskan Harbour
Craft Detachment, and included an openly gay character. The book's success was
helped by Eleanor Roosevelt' support in her influential newspaper column.
Over the following years Vidal published a number of novels in his own name
including The City and the Pillar in 1948, which created controversy as
the first major American novel to feature unambiguous homosexuality. He
also wrote a number of novels using the pseudonyms Katherine Everard, Cameron
Kay and Edgar Box (detective books).
He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1960 and then returned to writing.
He published Julian in 1964, and then a trilogy of novels set in
Washington, DC, followed by a number of stand-alone novels. His most
famous novel is Myra Breckinridge (1968), a transsexual comedy parodying
the cult of the Hollywood film star, dedicated to Christopher Isherwood. A
sequel, Myron, was published in 1974.
In 1972 he moved to Ravello on the Italian Amalfi coast. In 1982 he
launched campaign in California for the US senate, and came in second out of a
field of nine.
He sold his home in Ravello in 2003 and now spends most of his time living in
Los Angeles. In 2005, his life partner Howard Austen died. He is the
author of twenty-two novels, five plays, many screenplays, more than two hundred
essays and a memoir - Palimpsest, which was published in 1995 and focused
on his boyhood love, Jimmie Trimble, who was killed at Iwo Jima.
This biography was last updated on 07/25/2011.
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