She published a sequel titled “Go Set a Watchman” last summer
Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” has died at 89, a representative from Monroeville, Alabama’s City Hall confirmed to TheWrap.
The novelist published her famous first novel in 1960, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
A sequel, titled “Go Set a Watchman,” was released last July and sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week. It was initially written by Lee in 1957, a manuscript that had been thought to be lost.
Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama.
In 1949, she moved to New York City, where she worked as an airline reservations clerk while trying to nurture her writing career. In 1957, she submitted her first manuscript for her famous novel to J.B. Lippincott & Co. — but was then asked to rewrite it.
On July 11, 1960, the novel was finally published to widespread acclaim for its portrayal of race relations and criminal justice in the American South from the perspective of a young girl, Scout.
The novel sold more than 10 million copies and became one of the most taught works in schools.
The book was quickly adapted for the big screen in an acclaimed movie starring Mary Badham as Scout and Gregory Peck as Atticus. Director Alan J. Pakula’s film opened on Christmas Day of 1962 and was an immediate hit, winning three Academy Awards the following year — for Peck as Best Actor, for black-and-white art direction and for Horton Foote‘s adapted screenplay.
According to AL.com, Lee suffered a stroke in 2007 and moved back to her hometown, which displays “Mockingbird”-themed murals and puts on theatrical productions of her novel every year.
The news of Lee’s death came just a week after it was announced that Aaron Sorkin will adapt “To Kill a Mockingbird” for Broadway — the first time the beloved story has made its way to the Broadway stage.
“The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness,” HarperCollins publisher Michael Morrison stated. “She lived her life the way she wanted to- in private- surrounded by books and the people who loved her. I will always cherish the time I spent with her.”
“Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege,” her agent, Andrew Nurnberg said in a statement. “When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history. We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.”