Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ronald Emerick, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Martha Bower, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas Slater, Ph.D.


Throughout the publication and promotion of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Capote admitted his childhood friend, Harper Lee, accompanied him to Kansas as his research assistant, but he never explained in detail what she did to assist him other than to say she accompanied him on interviews. However, once the book was published, her name never appeared in the acknowledgement page of the book. Capote allowed people to believe that Lee was only in Kansas with him two months and she never returned during the five years he was there to conduct research. It is true that Lee was in Kansas the first few months with Capote; however, she returned to assist him with research at Hickock's and Smith's arraignment, and she returned to Kansas many other times. However, Capote never revealed this information or Lee's major role in the research for In Cold Blood. It was not until the publication of Charles Shields' unauthorized biography of Lee, Mockingbird (2006), the world began to understand Lee's research conducted for In Cold Blood. Shields briefly showed several passages of Lee's notes in one chapter, "See N.L.'s Notes." However, what Shields revealed was only a small part of Lee contributions. By conducting archival research at the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, and by conducting interviews with people who knew Capote and Lee, I have discovered Lee's exact contributions to Capote's research. By examining Lee's and Capote's research notes, and by juxtaposing both of the writers' notes, one can see that Lee conducted a majority of the interviews with the townspeople, while Capote focused primarily on Smith and Hickock. This dissertation explores both writers' research note and shows what notes Lee recorded were used in Capote's published book. Their notes not only reveal what research they conducted, but also reveal their personalities and show that the two had major creative differences. This dissertation also suggests possible theories as to why Capote did not acknowledge Lee, because he suffered from narcissism. Because Capote did not acknowledge Lee properly, I suggest that this is one reason Lee stopped writing.