Harper Lee, Author Of 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' Dies At 89

Friday, February 19th 2016, 11:18 am
By: News 9

Nelle Harper Lee, of "To Kill a Mockingbird" fame, has died at 89 in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, a Monroeville City Hall clerk confirmed to CBS News.

The author, who used Harper Lee as a pen name, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 for "To Kill a Mockingbird," which was based on her childhood. The novel addressed racial injustice in the south as it followed the story of Scout, the protagonist, and her father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends a falsely accused black man of rape in 1930s Alabama.

The book became an American classic, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide since its publication.

Lee published her second book, "Go Set a Watchman," in 2015, which was told from the perspective of Scout 20 years later. She wrote it before "To Kill a Mockingbird" while living in New York in the 1950s; after she submitted it to a publisher in 1957, she was told to rewrite it with a younger Scout. "Watchman" sold more than 1.1 million copies in less than a week; publisher Harper Collins said it was the fastest-selling book in history.

Lee was born on April 28, 1926 and grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, as the youngest of four children of lawyer and politician Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. She later studied law at the University of Alabama, but did not complete her degree.

In 1949, Lee moved to New York to pursue writing, and worked as an airline reservations clerk as her day job. She submitted her first manuscript, which would eventually become "Go Set a Watchman," eight years later to J.B. Lippincott & Co (the publisher was later acquired by Harper & Row, which eventually became HarperCollins).

The book was adapted into a 1962 film starring Gregory Peck; the movie won three Oscars.