She wrote, to Leonard Raybon, with admiration, Harper Lee.
It was her only published work for 55 years – until last year, when “Go Set A Watchman” was released to huge hype. Her second novel was, in fact, the first draft of Mockingbird that had been rejected by her publisher.
Born Nelle Harper Lee in 1926, she grew up in Monroeville, Alabama and was the youngest of four children.
It said: “Her passing was unexpected”. I was privileged to be in the film version adapted to the screen by her good friend Horton Foote. The family is in mourning and there will be a private funeral service in the upcoming days, as she had requested.
Around Christmas until about eight years ago, Harper Lee would walk into Capitol Book & News, sign hundreds of copies of her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and purchase presents for her family. “Public encouragement, I hoped for a little, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening”.
Madden-Lunsford was encouraged by a friend to introduce herself to Lee, so she nervously approached the author and Lee gave her a big hug.
Editor’s note: This review of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird ran in The Dallas Morning News on September 4, 1960. Of the book, Mr. Crank says, “It’s part of our hearts, it’s part of our heritage, it’s part of the culture here”. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 and a National Medal of Arts in 2010.
The book’s towering position in the literary world was reflected in a statement by Barnes & Nobel Chief Executive Ron Boire’s statement.
“People so wanted to read anything she’d written at all”, said Jan Fronk, owner of Book Gallery West. Some critics have called the book naive and sentimental, whether dismissing the Ku Klux Klan as a minor nuisance in Maycomb or advocating change through personal persuasion rather than collective action.
However, since then Lee published “Go Set a Watchman”, a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
But for most of her life, Lee stayed out of the spotlight.
To Kill A Mockingbird, bringing light to racism and the rigid class structures in the United States in the 1930s, remains highly studied in schools and universities – as such, thousands of people around the world have had some level of interaction with the book in their lifetimes.