Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee has died at 89, AL.com reports, citing multiple sources in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.
A source “with direct knowledge” confirmed the death to The Hollywood Reporter’s Ryan Parker.
Selling 1.1 million copies in the first week of sales, “Go Set a Watchman” became publisher HarperCollins’ fastest-selling book ever.
Set 20 years after “Mockingbird,” “Watchman” tells the story of protagonist Scout Finch’s return to Alabama as an adult living in New York. There, Scout learns that her father, Atticus, portrayed in the first book as an honorable lawyer and pinnacle of fatherhood, has become a Klan-loving racist.
“Watchman” could be considered an early draft of “Mockingbird,” as Lee submitted it to her editor years before “Mockingbird” was published. Questionable circumstances surrounded its publication last year, and some evidence suggests Lee may never have wanted “Watchman” released at all.
Born in 1926, Lee grew up in Monroeville and moved to New York in 1949, 11 years before publishing “Mockingbird.” In New York she worked as an airlines reservations clerk, according to AL.com, while pursuing her writing career.
As The New Yorker’s Casey Cep writes, “like the seasons,” Lee visited her hometown in Alabama in winter and headed back north for the rest of the year. A stroke in 2007, which eventually sent her to an assisted-living facility, brought her home for good.
Lee was deaf and blind for the last years of her life, during which time she also used a wheelchair.
“Mockingbird” had sold more than 40 million copies and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Two years after its publication, the book was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck, who was named best actor at the 1962 Academy Awards for playing Atticus Finch.
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