American Author Harper Lee, Whose Novel Changed Lives, Dies at 89
Influential author Nelle Harper Lee, whose novel To Kill A Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, has died at the age of 89.
A relative said Lee died in her sleep at the Meadows, an assisted living facility in Monroeville, Alabama—the same town in which she was born in 1926.
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“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and a spokesman for the family, said in a statement Friday morning. “We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”
To Kill A Mockingbird “needs no introduction — because it is the introduction, for most American children, to civil rights, literature, and the justice system,” Boris Kachka wrote for Vulture in 2014. The book accumulated countless accolades over the years; in 2006, the Guardian noted, “British librarians
The novel’s huge success combined with a popular 1962 film adaptation—which Lee herself considered a triumph—turned the characters of Scout and Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and Calpurnia into household names.
Lee, on the other hand, was more inscrutable. As the LA Times writes, “fame and its burdens overwhelmed Harper Lee, who wrote one masterpiece, then shut the door on an adoring public. She had hoped for modest approval of her debut work ‘but I got rather a whole lot,’ she once said, ‘and in some ways this was just about as frightening’.”
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