Gore Vidal biography

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Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal

How to pronounce Gore Vidal: gore (hard g) vi-DAHL

Gore Vidal Biography

During Gore Vidal's six decade career he wrote many novels, essays, television plays and film scripts. He authored around 30 novels, eight 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.

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, after which he spent most of his time living in Los Angeles. In 2005, his life partner Howard Austen died and was followed by Vidal in July 2012.



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Books by this Author

Books by Gore Vidal at BookBrowse
The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal jacket Point to Point Navigation jacket The Golden Age jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Gore Vidal but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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    If you enjoyed:
    The Golden Age

    Try:
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    by T.C. Boyle

  • E.L. Doctorow

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    Named for Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. On a shortlist that might also include Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Saul Bellow, and Don ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
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    Try:
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    by E.L. Doctorow

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