Books | July 25, 2020 6:00 am

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” Manuscript Reveals Holly Golightly Almost Had a Very Different Name

The typescript is going up for auction, and it reveals some interesting changes Capote made to the final draft

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Would a Holly Golightly by any other name be as iconic?
Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images

The final manuscript for Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is set to go up for auction at Sotheby’s next week, and the document reveals a crucial, eleventh-hour edit Capote made to the 1958 novella. Up until the author’s final revision, the iconic heroine Holly Golightly, famously portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in the classic 1961 screen adaptation, went by the much less glamorous name of Connie Gustafson.

While the earlier name may have better suited the character’s country bumpkin origins, it’s safe to say Capote’s heroine may not have the same icon status today were it not for the last-minute change.

“Holly Golightly is such a magnificent name – it is instantly memorable. It is also a great comic name in itself, and, as with all comic characters, the name is an extremely important element,” said Sotheby’s books specialist Gabriel Heaton, per the Guardian. “The original name does not have the same ring to it – it does not trill off the tongue in the same way or capture the character. We all remember the name Holly Golightly, it sticks long after turning the final page of the book or switching off the film as the credits roll.”

While the name change has long been “a matter of public record,” as Heaton noted, the manuscript also reveals several other changes Capote made, including cutting some of the novel’s racier details. The writer removed Holly’s confession that she’d “hit the hay with some real ghastlies” just for want of human touch, as well an exchange between Holly and Mag Wildwood in which the latter admits she pictures a statue of an ancestor, “Papadaddy Wildwood,” during sex.

Capote’s self-censorship may have been a necessary if unfortunate sign of pruder times, but if there’s one major edit that still holds up, it’s giving the world Holly Golightly instead of Connie Gustafson.

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