Harper Lee, 1926–2016

The American novelist, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has died

Frank. H. Lyell assessed “Mockingbird” in The New York Times Book Review in 1960. © The New York Times

Harper Lee, the American novelist and author of best-selling To Kill a Mocking Bird (1960), has died age 89, The New York Times reports. The book, telling the story of a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in the 1930s American Deep South (loosely inspired from actual events that occurred near to Lee's hometown in Alabama), was an immediate success and received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the year following its publication; by the 1970s, the book had sold 10 million copies and was being taught in secondary schools all over the country. 

Although Lee had maintain she would never write another book, in 2015, her agents released Go Set a Watchman, written in the 1950s, and presented it as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. The mysterious rediscovery of the book arose suspicion in the literary world, with many critics claiming the book was actually the first draft for the latter, while also questioning whether Lee was mentally competent to approve the manuscript. 

Read the full obituary here.

19 February 2016.