Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ever wonder what happened to Harper Lee?

She is alive and well and living in Alabama.

After To Kill A Mockingbird came out in 1960, winning the Pulitzer Prize a year later, she went back to Monroeville, the little town in Alabama where she and Capote were brought up. She never left, and the woman who once said she wanted to be the Jane Austen of south Alabama has never written another book....
The only clue to her seclusion came in her last personal interview, in 1964. She said of her book: "I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers, but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement - public encouragement. I hoped for a little, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected."

So her escape from death was an escape back to her childhood: she still shares a house in Monroeville with her 94-year-old sister, Alice, who, like their father, the role model for Atticus Finch in the book, is a lawyer.

The people of Monroeville regularly hold re-enactments of the To Kill A Mockingbird trial in the old town courtroom, where Harper Lee's father and sister appeared - and, in the case of the latter, appear: Alice is still a practising lawyer. Harper never attends the re-enactments.

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