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Author Harper Lee dies at the age of 89

You can never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

—Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Pulitzer Prize winner and To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee passed away last February 19 at the age of 89.

Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and the family’s spokesman, released a statement regarding her death.

“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors. We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

harper lee young

The statement also indicated that Lee was in good basic health until her passing. Her death had been unexpected.

Lee is best known for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The book tells the story of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch and his children, Scout and Jem. The story is in Scout’s point of view and reflects the innocence of children who grew up in the early 1930s. In the novel, Finch defends a black man, Tom Robinson, after being falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. The novel brings to light issues of racism and the various social classes of the time.

The novel won Lee a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, a year after its publication. To this day, To Kill a Mockingbird is still being studied by both high school and college students and has sold more than 30 million copies. Harper Lee stopped granting interviews in 1964 and was last seen in public in 2015 when HarperCollins announced the then-upcoming release of Go Set a Watchman, Lee’s second and final full-length published work. The novel serves as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.

Fans of the author took to social media to express their grief. Congressman John Lewis, who hails from Lee’s home state Alabama, tweeted, “One of the great writers of all time, Harper Lee laid bare the soul of America and her work will continue to educate for generations.” Actor Matthew Modine, who played Atticus Finch on stage said, “Bless you Harper Lee, you made us all conscious.” Her publisher, HarperCollins said in a statement, “The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but that many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness.” The statement was delivered by the company’s president, Michael Morrison.

Harper Lee’s health had started declining after a stroke left her partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. No announcements had been made yet regarding services for Lee, but Conner said that her funeral is to be private, as she had requested.

Sources:
http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/02/harper_lee_dead_at_age_of_89_t.html
globalcitizen.org
CNN.com

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