Harper Lee Is Back! Here Are 5 Amazing Facts You Need To Know About The Author

5 Amazing Facts You Need To Know About Harper Lee


by Clare Thorp |
Published on

Harper Lee has announced that she is publishing a sequel to her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird – 55 years after the classic first came out. Go Set A Watchman – due out on 14th July – will only be the second book published by the author, despite the mammoth success of her first novel.

The new book – actually written before To Kill A Mockingbird – is set 20 years after her classic and centres around Scout – just a child in the first book – as an adult who returns to her hometown to visit her lawyer father Atticus. More than half a century after its original publication, To Kill A Mockingbird continues to sell more than a million copies a year.

Harper won the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction for the book, and it was made into an Oscar-winning film, but she has shunned public life ever since. While fans wait anxiously to see if her follow-up will be worth the wait, here’s five amazing things you might not know about the writer…

**1. Her real name is Nelle **

She was born Nelle Harper Lee in 1926, and named after her grandmother. Well, kind of – Nelle is Ellen spelt backwards. When To Kill A Mockingbird was published she thought the media wouldn’t pronounce her name properly and might call her ‘Nellie’, so decided to go for Harper instead.

**2. She hates the limelight **

She might be responsible for one of the most-loved books of the last century, but you won’t see Harper lapping up the limelight. Despite receiving numerous plaudits and honorary degrees, she nearly always refuses to speak – and has turned down being interview by Oprah Winfrey. At one ceremony in 2007, she explained: “Well, it's better to be silent than to be a fool.”

**3. She really isn’t a Kindle fan **

In 2006 Harper wrote an open letter to Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine in which she talked about her love of books – real ones with actual pages. “[In] an abundant society where people have laptops, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up—some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.” Now there’s a woman totally after our own hearts.

**4. She was good mates with Truman Capote **

Harper Lee and Breakfast At Tiffany’s author Truman Capote were childhood friends and he inspired the character Dill – a friend of Scout – in To Kill A Mockingbird. In 1959, Truman asked Harper to go with him to Holcomb, Kansas, to investigate the murder of a family. Harper helped him interview locals and piece together the case – which later became the subject of his famous book In Cold Blood. In the film Capote, in which the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the writer, Harper features prominently, and is played by Katherine Keener. In Infamous, another film about Capote’s life, she is played by Sandra Bullock.

**5. ...and some conspiracy theorists think that he wrote To Kill A Mockingbird **

For decades some people were suspicious of Harper Lee writing one perfect book and then never publishing anything else. So much so that they believed it was actually written by Truman Capote. Then in 2006 a letter came to light written by Capote in 1959 to his aunt, in which he talks about having read Harper’s book and liking it very much – thus quashing the rumour.

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