Professor donates first-edition 'In Cold Blood'

— An autographed first-edition copy of "In Cold Blood" that was given to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation employee by author Truman Capote has been donated to Washburn University after it was found at an estate sale.

Tom Averill, an English professor and writer in residence at Washburn, donated the book to the university's Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection. It contains an inscription from Capote, who wrote the book about the infamous 1959 killings of the Clutter family in Holcomb, and is also signed by six Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents and administrators who helped catch killers Richard Hickock and Perry Smith.

The value of the book hasn't been determined, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported


"When I first saw it, I was just blown away," Averill said.

Averill said the Capote signature hasn't been authenticated by a handwriting expert but "it matches really well" with a Capote signature he has seen.

The book's inscription reads "For Maxine Manchester with best wishes, Truman Capote."

Manchester worked at the KBI from 1959 to 1967 but it is unclear if she played any role in the Clutter investigation, the Capital-Journal reported. A city directory from 1966 lists her as a stenographer at the KBI.

At some point, the book belonged to Zula Bennington Green, who wrote columns for the newspaper for 55 years.

Green died in 1988 and a neighbor, Lynn Wilkerson, found it at her estate sale and has owned it since then.

Wilkerson learned about the Kansas Studies Collection when she audited an Averill class on Kansas authors in spring 2012. When she brought it to Averill to donate to the collection, he initially said he couldn't take a book that is likely worth a lot of money.

When Wilkerson said she would donate it elsewhere if Averill didn't take it, he accepted the book.


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