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Harper Lee, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' author, has died at 89




Pulitzer Prize winner and
Pulitzer Prize winner and "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said Friday that Lee has died. She was 89.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Pulitzer Prize winner and
In this file photo, the newly released book authored by Harper Lee, 'Go Set a Watchman', is seen on sale at the Books and Books store on July 14, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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Harper Lee, the novelist who wrote about racial injustice through the eyes of a child in "To Kill a Mockingbird," has died. She was 89.

HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis confirmed the author's death to The Associated Press on Friday.

From AP:

"To Kill a Mockingbird," published in 1960, is the story of a girl nicknamed Scout growing up in a Depression-era Southern town. A black man has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman, and Scout's father, the resolute lawyer Atticus Finch, defends him despite threats and the scorn of many.

The book was a huge success, ultimately winning the Pulitzer Prize and being turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck as Finch. Last week it was revealed that Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin would adapt the book for Broadway.

Lee became more mysterious as her book became more famous. Here's more from AP:

At first, she dutifully promoted her work. She spoke frequently to the press, wrote about herself and gave speeches, once to a class of cadets at West Point.

But she began declining interviews in the late 1960s and, until late in her life, firmly avoided making any public comment at all about her novel or her career. Other than a few magazine pieces for Vogue and McCalls in the 1960s and a review of a 19th century Alabama history book in 1983, she published no other book until stunning the world in 2015 by permitting "Go Set a Watchman" to be released.

"Watchman" was written before "Mockingbird," but was set 20 years later, using the same location and many of the same characters. Readers and reviewers were disheartened to find an Atticus who seemed nothing like the hero of the earlier book. The man who defied the status quo in "Mockingbird" was now part of the mob in "Watchman," denouncing the Supreme Court's ruling that school segregation was unconstitutional and denouncing blacks as unfit to enjoy full equality.

Take Two's Deepa Fernandes spoke with David Kipen, creator of the "Libros Schmibros" lending library in Boyle Heights, about Lee's legacy.

On how Harper Lee got her career jump-started thanks to a specific present

I would say that she was gutsy woman who needed that kind of determination to get her career jump started. She had a couple of friends who literally gave her as a Christmas present the money she would have made as a travel agent. They said "Harper we know you want to write. Next year is our present to you."

On Lee's unexpected connection to Los Angeles

Gregory Peck who played Attics Finch in the movie, (he and Lee) grew to be friends. The LA public library was, rightfully so, a  very dear cause to Mr. Peck. In 2005, after he died, as a favor to his widow, he arm-twisted Harper Lee to come out to Los Angeles and to appear at a dinner in recognition of and as a fundraiser for the L.A. Public library.