Truman Capote

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Truman Capote

Signed Postcard to Sheriff Wendle Meier - 1960


Handwritten and signed postcard from Truman Capote sent from his chalet in Verbier, Switzerland, to Sheriff Wendle Meier and his wife, Josie, in Garden City, Kansas. Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the killers of the Clutter family, were jailed from their capture in January 1960 until their transfer to the Kansas State Penitentiary in April 1960, following their trial, conviction, and sentencing to death by hanging. In fine condition, accompanied by a Letter of Provenance from the grandson of Sheriff Wendle Meier.

The jailhouse in Garden City at the time was small, just six cells, but they wanted the boys separated before the trial, so Smith was kept in the cell for female prisoners, which was adjacent to the kitchen in the sheriff’s apartment on the fourth floor of the jailhouse. At the time Meier was then the Undersheriff (to Sheriff Earl Robinson) but was elected Sheriff later that year, as Capote notes in his congratulatory postcard, also sending Christmas greetings. Both Wendle, and especially Josie, had gotten quite close to Perry Smith during their time together. We will be introducing a huge assortment of letters, photos, documents, and other material from this estate lot later this year, so stay tuned.

Postmarked November 22, 1960, Capote was in the thick of writing In Cold Blood, and had just finished Part One (“The Last to See Them Alive”) of four parts. Just a few weeks before sending this postcard, Capote—still in Spain but preparing to move to Switzerland—had written to his editor at The New Yorker, William Shawn, where the full story would first be serialized over four issues prior to the book’s publication:

Letter from Truman Capote to William Shawn
Credit: Clarke, Gerald (ed). Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote.
New York: Random House, 2004.