Harper Lee: Silent Forever

Harper Lee: Silent Forever

harMONROEVILLE, ALABAMA– Most known for writing To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, Nelle Harper Lee passed away at 89 years old in her sleep on February 19th, 2016. Her death was a shock to many people, especially to those who loved her writing.

Jessica Lacher-Feldman, who accompanied Lee at public events from 2001 to 2006, spoke about Lee and her private life after her death.

“I think that there’s this mythic quality about her that we bandy around these words like ‘recluse’ that are just so loaded,” she tells TIME Magazine. “She didn’t set out to write the book of the century … She really just wanted to live her life, and she chose the path that she chose. I think that the quieter somebody is, or the less in the limelight in our media hungry society, the more people are going to speculate.”

The classic How To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and set in the South; it tackled issues of race, justice, outsiders and society. Later, it was made into an award-winning film and won the Pulitzer Prize. To Kill a Mockingbird is still taught in many schools today. However, the success of her first novel was overwhelming for her. She stayed away from cameras as much as she could, even though she lived in Manhattan until 2007 when she had a stroke. Then she decided to live in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama.

Lee was silent for 55 years, until, a manuscript of Go Set a Watchman, surfaced. And now, one of American literature’s most revered figures is silent forever.

But there are some things about Lee that not everyone knew about besides her reclusiveness. Her first name, Nelle, was her grandmother’s Ellen’s name spelled backwards. Lee changed the name when To Kill a Mockingbird was published because she hated it when people called her Nellie. She was the daughter of a lawyer (inspiration of Atticus Finch) and went to study law at the University of Alabama and Oxford University. She initially wanted to enter the family firm but her intuition led her elsewhere. She moved to New York City in 1949 to become a writer and kept an apartment there until her death. Truman Capote, childhood writing friend, is rumored to have co-written To Kill a Mockingbird (never proven).21lee-web-master675

Harper Lee changed American literature for both the young and old. She and her books will be greatly remembered forever. Lee’s nephew, Hank Conner, spoke a few words to NPR.

“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. 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 in our state. We will miss her dearly,” he sympathized.

Just share it.