Obituary: Harper Lee

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

Released in 1960, her novel about racial inequality in the deep South has sold over 40 million copies and has been translated into more than forty languages. To Kill A Mockingbird catapulted Ms Lee into literary stardom and even won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, before the film adaptation starring Gregory Peck in 1962.

Fame became too much of a demanding and intense part of Lee’s life, causing her to become a reclusive figure in society who would never speak of the novel that changed her life. Much like Boo Radley, Ms Lee shunned the limelight and it was reported that the reason for never publishing another book was because she feared it could never live up to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee was the daughter of Frances Cunningham and Amasa Coleman Lee who practiced law and served in the Alabama State Legislature. It is widely believed that Atticus Finch, the beloved father of Scout and Jem and hero of To Kill A Mockingbird, was based on her own father whom she loved dearly.

It was revealed in 2011 that after suffering from a stroke, Harper Lee was left wheelchair-bound, partially deaf and blind and had moved into an assisted-living facility. When it was announced in 2015 that the original manuscript of MockingbirdGo Set A Watchman, was to be published, it sparked much controversy about whether it was really Ms Lee who wanted to publish it or if it was simply the greed of literary agents. Although it was always denied, concerned readers suspected Ms Lee’s disabilities were being exploited after the death of her sister Alice, who had previously managed all of her business affairs, and who passed away in December 2014.

Here at b**p we are truly heartbroken to hear the news that Nelle Harper Lee, an extraordinary writer, has passed away. It must also be said that To Kill A Mockingbird will never be forgotten as one of the greatest novels this world has ever had the honour of reading; shaping and changing minds all while touching hearts, it is a gift to this world, much like Lee’s life.