After a long wait, Ryan Murphy's series about the life of writer Truman Capote has finally landed on UK screens.


Based on the book Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era by Laurence Leamer, Feud: Capote Vs The Swans follows writer Truman Capote (The White Lotus's Tom Hollander), who is friends with the ‘Swans’, a group of high society women.

When Capote writes a thinly veiled account about them in a chapter of his book, the women soon cotton on – and set out on a journey to seek revenge against the writer.

The events are depicted with all the style and glamour you'd expect from a Murphy production, with a line-up of true Hollywood legends playing Capote's so-called 'Swans'.

But how accurate is it? Read on for everything you need to know about the remarkable events that inspired Feud: Capote Vs The Swans, as well as what the show's cast had to say on the matter.

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Feud: Capote Vs The Swans true story - How much of the series is accurate?

Truman Capote (Tom Hollander) sat in a restaurant, looking uncomfortable and down towards the table
Tom Hollander stars in Feud: Capote vs the Swans. FX Networks

Truman Capote began to embed himself in the world of high society following the release of his 1966 novel In Cold Blood (first published in serialised form in The New Yorker).

The non-fiction work, which focused on a quadruple murder in Holcomb, Kansas, proved a major success, and paved the way for the scandalous events that followed.

Capote began to surround himself with wealthy, glamorous socialites – nicknamed his 'Swans' – and proved an important emotional support for some of them, accumulating their salacious gossip in the process.

Feud producer Ryan Murphy explained how the women were highly educated and quite shrewd businesspeople, particularly Nancy 'Slim' Keith (Diane Lane) – but their opportunities and recognition were severely restricted by the attitudes of the time.

He said: "The tragedy of that generation, which I would include my mother in, is a generation of women sort of caught between The Dick Van Dyke Show and the pill. I think [they were] very frustrated a lot of times with the misogyny of the society.

"I think all of those women in our show were so brilliant in their personal lives and so intelligent that I do think, 10 years post, they all would have had successful businesses or brands."

Murphy continued: "If you look at Slim, the tragedy is that she was behind so many incredible business deals that she helped put together professionally, that she was not given credit for. So I think the frustration and the sadness was baked into that time."

These feelings, in the opinion of Murphy and star Naomi Watts (Babe Paley), are what drove the Swans to Capote – who listened to them, understood their problems and enraptured them with his stories.

Watts added: "Babe is someone who's well calloused by this point... But when she shares all of her secrets with Truman, someone who actually cares about her wellbeing, she feels seen and listened to for the first time.

"She fell into this relationship as if it was the deepest romance she'd ever had, minus the sex. But I think that allowed her to go deeper. And so, when the betrayal occurs, she just comes undone. And they all do, because they trusted him."

Paley was particularly close with Capote until November 1975, when a chapter from his long-delayed novel, Answered Prayers, was published in Esquire – and featured several thinly veiled depictions of the Swans, as well as their personal dramas.

Did Capote expect the Swans to discover his betrayal?

Babe Paley lies across a couch in a black and white dress, holding one hand to her face
Naomi Watts plays Babe Paley in Feud: Capote Vs The Swans. Pari Ducovic/FX

It remains up for debate whether or not Capote expected the consequences of La Côte Basque 1965, which deeply wounded the women he had called friends and decimated his social standing in the group.

Several of the them feature in the story in embarrassing, exposing ways, while a substitute for Slim (named Lady Ina Coolbirth) is the person disclosing their secrets in the text to the point-of-view character (partly inspired by Capote, naturally).

Actor Diane Lane speculates this might be why she was so ardent about shunning the author, particularly after she had helped him secure lucrative deals for his works in the years prior.

"She did empower him and nurture his growth and was there for a lot of his formative time," said Lane. "They travelled the world together, and she did seem to have a sixth sense about not trusting him with too much of her secrets.

"So when she was chosen to be the person quoted about other people's indiscretions in the infamous Answered Prayer article in Esquire, as though she were the one betraying the ladies who loved him to everyone else... she was really baffled."

Did Capote ever reconcile with the Swans?

Most of the Swans never spoke to Capote again, including his once-close friend Babe Paley, who died of lung cancer before any reconciliation could take place.

Meanwhile, his addiction to drugs and alcohol became increasingly severe, which led to a career decline involving some distressing public appearances, and continued languishing with Answered Prayers, which was never finished.

When and how did Truman Capote die?

Joanne Carson (Molly Ringwald) wears a glamorous red dress, standing in an opulent living room with yellow walls and a large vase of flowers behind her
Molly Ringwald plays Joanne Carson in Feud: Capote Vs The Swans. Pari Ducovic/FX

Capote died in August 1984 at the home of Joanne Carson (played by Molly Ringwald in the series), who was never considered a member of the Swans and stood by the author despite his erratic behaviour.

"She was really like his last friend," said Ringwald of her character. "I think one of the reasons why she stayed friends with him – because he wrote things about her, too – is she was in love with his genius. I think she really thought that he was a genius."

Reflecting on Capote's merciless ousting from a glamorous world he valued so highly, co-star Tom Hollander added: "I think maybe they didn't really think he was one of them. And he didn't believe that he was one of them, either.

"He knew that he was a sort of, at some level, a tourist in their world. And at some level, they thought he was lucky to be there. So when he turned or when they felt he turned, they were vicious – [they thought], 'From you?! You were the adornment in our house. You were not our equal.'

"And I think, at some level, he probably knew that, which is why he writes Côte Basque in the way that he does, because at some level he's enraged at his own position.

"As we learn, he's somewhere between them and their staff. He's not quite at the same level as them – that was my instinct."

Feud: Capote Vs The Swans is available to watch on Disney Plus UK. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year.


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