Harper Lee, author of 'To Kill a Mockingbird', dies at 89

She won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961

Reuters February 19, 2016
Author Harper Lee. PHOTO: FILE

Harper Lee, who wrote one of America's most enduring literary classic, To Kill a Mockingbird’, has died at the age of 89.

Mary Jackson, the city clerk in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, confirmed to Reuters by phone that Lee had died.

Tonja Carter, read a statement on behalf of the family that said
Lee "passed away early this morning in her sleep. Her passing
was unexpected."

For decades it was thought Lee would never follow up ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the July 2015 publication of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was a surprising literary event - as well as a shock for devotees of ‘Mockingbird’.

Lee reportedly had written ‘Go Set a Watchman’ first but, at the suggestion of a wise editor, set it aside to tell a tale of race in the South from the child's point of view in the 1930s.

A woman holds a copy of Harper Lee's book "Go Set a Watchman" before purchasing it inside of a Barnes & Noble store in New York, in this July 14, 2015, file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

For many years, Lee, a shy woman with an engaging Southern drawl, lived quietly and privately, always turning down interview requests. She alternated between living in a New York apartment and Monroeville, where she shared a home with her older sister, lawyer Alice Lee.

Harper Lee's second novel tops 2015 US bestseller list

After suffering a stroke and enduring failing vision and hearing, she spent her final years in an assisted-living facility in Monroeville. Lee's state of mind would become an issue when plans were announced in 2015 to publish ‘Go Set a Watchman.’

Some friends said that after the death of Alice, who handled Harper's affairs, lawyer Tonja Carter, had manipulated Lee to approve publication. Carter had said she came across the ‘Watchman’ manuscript while doing legal work for Lee in 2014 and an investigation by Alabama state officials found there was no coercion in getting Lee's permission to publish.

An unsettling legacy - Go Set a Watchman

Lee's literary output had been a matter of speculation for decades before "Go Set a Watchman." She acknowledged she could not top the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Mockingbird" but friends said she had worked for years on at least two other books before abandoning them.

A family friend, the Reverend Thomas Lane Butts, told an Australian interviewer Lee had said she did not publish again because she did want to endure the pressure and publicity of another book and because she had said all that she wanted to say.


Q.T. Ahmad | 5 years ago | Reply She led a very successful life, creating a different perception of society and social norm prevelent at a specific period against the all the odds. With a solitary book, she had impact over lives of millions of people around the globe, pursuing the path of truth and justice. Rest in Peace Harper Lee
Zahid | 5 years ago | Reply Bad news, world will remember always
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