“Am now rooming [at Duke] with Art Katz of Memphis and Claude Kirk of Montgomery, Ala. Both are transfers from Emory, and they’re good guys.”
— Letter from William Styron to his father, March 12, 1944
“[Florida Gov. Claude Kirk] rises to the challenge, occasionally with a fine and almost classic use of the language… ‘Styron taught me about language, about balance and words and how to put them together and get the most out of them.’ ”
— Harper’s magazine, 1968
“Styron settles down to his second Bloody Mary, made with lemons sent him every year by his college roommate….”
— Yale Literary magazine (Fall 1968)
Hard to imagine odder roomies than the saturnine man of letters and the “spectacularly colorful” demagogue…. also hard to imagine that Kirk absorbed such an appreciation of the language while bunking with Styron — couldn’t have been more than a semester or two. I think I once asked Styron about their relationship but can’t find any evidence thereof.