To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee dies at 89

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman.

To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee Gregory Peck
To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee on the set of the Oscar-winning film with star Gregory Peck. Image Picture Universal

To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee has died at the age of 89.

The acclaimed American novelist passed away in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama this morning, according to Al.

Lee’s death comes less than a year after the publication of Go Set A Watchman, her sequel to 1960’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird.

The novel, about Depression-era lawyer Atticus Finch and his fight to defend a black man against an undeserved rape charge, swiftly became a literary phenomenon. In 1962 it was turned into an Oscar-winning feature film with Gregory Peck in the role of Finch.

Shortly after the film’s release Lee admitted that she never expected to see any kid of success from her novel.

Harper Lee author of To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee The acclaimed American author write To Kill A Mockingbird and its sequel Go Set A Watchman. Image Picture Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement,” she said.

“I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”

Born on April 28 1926, Lee was the youngest of four children of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. In 1949 she moved to New York to work as an airline reservations clerk, writing short stories in her spare time.

Her original manuscript for Go Set A Watchman was originally bought by publisher JB Lippincott in 1957. Lee’s agent didn’t believe the book was ready for publication, and subsequent drafts transformed it into To Kill A Mockingbird.

It took until 2015 for Go Set A Watchman to see the light of day when HarperCollins published Lee’s first draft.

Famously reclusive, Lee penned no further published novels throughout her life. Her other published works included articles for Vogue, McCall’s and Oprah Winfrey’s magazine O.

She famously helped Truman Capote in his research for In Cold Blood, and was played by Sandra Bullock in the film Infamous and Catherine Keener in Capote.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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