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STANFORD -- Breakfast in the jewel salon of Tiffany & Co. in New York on March 24 featured Virginia ham on beaten biscuits, orange juice and champagne, and the announcement of major new awards in creative writing and literary criticism by the Truman Capote Literary Trust. The awards, in honor of the late author of Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood, were granted to the nation's first two degree-granting creative writing programs, at the University of Iowa and Stanford University.
Stanford will receive $32,000 a year to fund two writing fellowships. In addition, once every four years the university's Creative Writing Program will award a $100,000 prize in lifetime achievement in literary criticism, in honor of Capote's friend, the late Newton Arvin of Smith College. The Iowa Writers Workshop will receive $36,000 to fund four creative writing fellowships and will award an annual $50,000 cash prize for the best book of literary criticism written in English.
Capote's novella about Holly Golightly and an imagined breakfast at the famous jewelry store will be released in a new leather- bound edition to be sold at Tiffany's, with royalties to be donated to the trust.
"Truman Capote was, as he often said, a genius," said John L'Heureux, director of the Stanford Creative Writing Program, in accepting the award. "While Capote had no need of help to foster his talent, workshops like Stanford's, founded by the late Wallace Stegner in 1946, have helped others to discover the range of their talent and the secrets of their craft," L'Heureux said. The program has fostered such distinguished writers as Edward Abbey, Ken Kesey, Harriet Doerr and Stephanie Vaughn.
Beginning in the fall of 1994, he said, the Capote awards will allow one more writer of fiction and one of poetry to join the 18 writers chosen for two-year fellowships at Stanford each year.
The first award for lifetime achievement in literary criticism will be granted in the fall of 1995. Capote was very specific that the recipients must be chosen by writers rather than academic critics, L'Heureux said. The trust specifies, "The prize will be awarded for a body of work that reflects those virtues of the best literary criticism: intelligence, insight, sympathetic imagination, illumination, the love and propagation of literature that opens the possibility for human growth and understanding."
"It was always Truman's intention that all his posthumous royalties be collected for the continuing benefit of writers," said Alan U. Schwartz, the author's literary executor, in a statement at the ceremony. Co-hosted by Tiffany & Co. and Random House, Capote's publishers, the Breakfast at Tiffany's event was attended by about 150 of Capote's literary and social friends, including Katharine Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post; photographer Richard Avedon; and author George Plimpton.
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