In Memory of Gore Vidal, 1925-2012
Vidal was born Eugene Louis Vidal at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. His father mistakenly gave him the name Louis instead of the intended middle name Luther. The error was corrected at Vidal's 1938 baptism when he also added his mother's maiden name "Gore". In his teenage years he dropped Eugene and Luther and was thereafter known as Gore Vidal.
His first novel Williwaw, based on his own army experiences, was written when he was 20. Vidal's third novel The City and the Pillar shocked 1948 audiences with its frank depiction of a homosexual relationship. Now too controversial to make a living publishing under his own name, Vidal adopted the pseudonym Edgar Box and found financial success with a series of mystery novels.
His novels included The Judgment of Paris, The Smithsonian Institution and The Golden Age but he also wrote a number of non-fiction works often critical of the United States government. He received the National Book Award for a collection of these pieces--United States: Essays 1952-1992.
Never married, Vidal enjoyed relationships with both men and women, including a brief engagement to actress Joanne Woodward. His relationship with partner Howard Austen lasted from 1950 when they first met until Austen's death in 2003.
Gore Vidal died of complications from pneumonia at his home in California.