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Pneumonia claims author Vidal at 86

Writer Gore Vidal, who filled his intellectual works with acerbic observations on politics, sex and American culture while carrying on feuds with his big-name literary rivals, died Tuesday at the age of 86, Los Angeles Times reported.
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Gore Vidal's literary legacy includes the campy transsexual comedy Myra Breckenridge.

Writer Gore Vidal, who filled his intellectual works with acerbic observations on politics, sex and American culture while carrying on feuds with his big-name literary rivals, died Tuesday at the age of 86, Los Angeles Times reported.

"Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia," the newspaper said, quoting the author's nephew, Burr Steers.

Vidal's legacy includes a series of historical novels - Burr, 1876, Lincoln and The Golden Age among them - as well as the campy transsexual comedy Myra Breckenridge.

He started writing as a 19-year-old soldier stationed in Alaska, basing Williwaw on his Second World War experiences. His third book, The City and the Pillar, created a sensation in 1948 because it was one of the first open portrayals of a homosexual main character.

Vidal referred to himself as a "gentleman bitch" and was as egotistical as he was elegant and brilliant.

In addition to rubbing shoulders with the great writers of his time, he banged heads with many of them. Vidal considered Ernest Hemingway a joke and compared Truman Capote to a "filthy animal that has found its way into the house."

His most famous literary enemies were conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr. and writer Norman Mailer, whom Vidal once likened to cult killer Charles Manson.