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The rumours about my love child may be true, says Gore Vidal

The octogenarian writer, who lived with another man for more than 50 years, remains as outspoken as ever

By Joy Lo Dico and Andrew Johnson
Sunday, 25 May 2008

The author and screenwriter Gore Vidal, one of the last giants of an American literary scene that included Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Joseph Heller, has admitted that he may once have fathered a love child, but refused to be part of her upbringing because he had paid for the mother to have an abortion.

Vidal, renowned for his waspish put-downs and his unabashed elitism, is more famous for his homosexual liaisons. He had a brief relationship with Jack Kerouac and lived with a male partner for 53 years.

The 82-year-old author also had relationships with women, including the erotic writer Anaïs Nin. In a wide-ranging interview in today's Independent on Sunday New Review magazine, he addresses rumours that he fathered a child in the 1950s – at first denying the suggestion, but then seeming to confirm it.

"Possibly. I don't believe so," he replies when asked if the rumours are true. "The father was either me or a German photographer. I believe the mother is dead. The child was a girl. Every Christmas I would receive a picture of them all around the tree, and there's the little girl looking like me. I could have a daughter, yes."

Asked why he has made no attempt to contact her, he replies: "I sent her mother money for an abortion. Which she used to go to Detroit, where she found a rich man."

If the reply seems callous, it will come as no surprise to those who know the author, a distant relative of the former American vice-president Al Gore, who himself once turned down a safe Democratic seat because he realised his motive "was vanity".

Vidal, whose 1999

memoir Palimpsest created a literary stir, is also notorious for his political outspokenness as well as his brilliant but arrogant put-downs.

This was more than evident when he spoke at the Hay literary festival in Wales yesterday. He said that Barack Obama, considered most likely to win the Democratic nomination for November's presidential election, should beware of "dark corners". "I would say to him don't stand in a dark corner when you hear a gun is going off. It's dangerous there."

Despite his long-standing relationship with the Clintons, he backed Mr Obama for the nomination. "I hope it's Obama," he said. "He's been pretty well vetted in the electoral process. I'm thrilled that the black race is able to move ahead."

Also at Hay yesterday, Cherie Blair talked about the battle for equality, attacking the old-boy culture in British firms. She said it was her "passionate desire to weaken the barriers" standing in the way of equality for women.

"We have made some real progress but that doesn't mean we have real equality," said Mrs Blair, who was using the speech to promote her own autobiography, Speaking for Myself.

"Eighty years after women got the vote, there are still five times as many men as women in Parliament. Women are still scandalously unrepresented at the very top of our companies."

Another political wife at the annual festival was Ffion Hague, married to the shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague. Her new book is called The Women in Lloyd George's Life.

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