Harper Lee, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' author, has died at 89
Harper Lee, the elusive author whose "To Kill a Mockingbird" became an enduring best-seller and classic film with its child's-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, has died. She was 89.
HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis confirmed the author's death to The Associated Press on Friday.
For most of her life, Lee divided her time between New York City, where she wrote the novel in the 1950s, and her hometown of Monroeville, which inspired the book's fictional Maycomb.
"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
Publisher HarperCollins issued a statement Friday calling author Lee "an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility, and kindness."
HarperCollins executive Michael Morrison said that while the world may know Lee as a "brilliant writer," many fewer people knew of her humility and kindness.
Andrew Nurnberg, her literary agent, said that when he last saw her six weeks ago and her mind and wit were as sharp as ever.
He said, "We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity."
While the media invariably painted Lee as a recluse, she was friendly and liked to socialize. A friend says Lee simply hated publicity.
Former newspaper reporter Connie Baggett says she knew Lee for years and found her to be friendly and chatty, as long as Lee knew the conversation wasn't for an interview. Lee died Thursday at age 89.
Baggett, who now works for the city of Brewton, often encountered Lee at the grocery store and at gatherings.
Baggett says Lee played golf, went to church, attended parties with friends, and frequented a casino in Atmore often. But Lee didn't like publicity or reporters.
Baggett says, "She was an intensely private person."