1. Her real name is Nelle, 3. Despite what many thought, Lee was not a recluse, 4. She led a simple life, 5. Lee made millions every year from 'Mockingbird', 6. There are discrepancies if Lee actually wanted 'Watchman' published, 8. She initially pursued a career in law, 10. Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom in 2011. To Kill a Mockingbird, regarded as one of the finest books ever written, was written by American novelist Nelle Harper Lee, who is well-known throughout the world for her work. Her renowned novel was released in 1960 after she abandoned her initial attempt to pursue a legal education and learned that writing was her genuine passion. Before her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, was controversially released in 2015, less than a year before her passing, Harper Lee had not written another significant work in nearly 55 years. Discover more about Harper Lee's family, life, education, work, and death by reading these 10 interesting facts.
- Her real name is Nelle
- Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends and there were rumors he wrote ‘Mockingbird’
- Despite what many thought, Lee was not a recluse
- She led a simple life
- Lee made millions every year from ‘Mockingbird’
- There are discrepancies if Lee actually wanted ‘Watchman’ published
- Her novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been voted as the best of the century
- She initially pursued a career in law
- Michael Brown and his wife helped Harper Lee in focusing on her writing career
- Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom in 2011
Her real name is Nelle
In honor of a grandmother named Ellen, Harper Lee was given the name Nelle, which she grew up going by. Nelle is the name Ellen spelt backwards.
So why was Harper Lee, rather than Nelle Lee or Nelle Harper Lee, given credit for To Kill a Mockingbird? Lee apparently didn’t want to risk the possibility that people would confuse the names Nelle and Nellie. As a result, Harper Lee wrote her first book, and her second book will be published under the same name.
Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends and there were rumors he wrote ‘Mockingbird’
Lee was a tomboy growing up and rougher than other lads. Truman Capote, her friend, classmate, and neighbor was teased by other children for being a sissy and dressing up, and Lee frequently rushed to his defense. Lee and Capote both had challenging home life; Lee’s mother had a mental illness, while Capote had been essentially abandoned by his own parents and was now living with his mother’s family. They kept in touch over the years.
There was a persistent notion that Harper Lee’s close friend Truman Capote was the real author of To Kill a Mockingbird in the years after the book’s publication. After all, Lee didn’t write another novel after Mockingbird, whereas Capote was a successful author who had published Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and In Cold Blood (1966).
It should be noted that Capote did not write Mockingbird. For starters, the novel has an entirely distinct literary voice from his. And in 1959, Capote said in a letter that he had read Lee’s book but made no mention of having authored or edited it. Last but not least, Capote simply didn’t back down from acknowledging credit for important achievements.
Although Lee had won the Pulitzer Prize for Mockingbird, Capote had intended to win one for In Cold Blood (a project Lee had contributed significantly to) but was unsuccessful. As a result, Capote did little to refute the suspicions while he was still living.
Harper Lee with Truman Capote
Despite what many thought, Lee was not a recluse
The author didn’t mind being with people, even though it’s true that Lee enjoys a quiet existence away from the spotlight, her last significant interview was done in 1964. She would go to baseball games, the theater, and museums in New York City (she was a Mets fan). She went out to eat frequently (David’s Catfish House was a favorite), went fishing with friends, and participated in gym classes at the Monroeville Community House while in Alabama.
New York Mets unveil statue of legendary pitcher Tom Seaver at Citi Field – ESPN
She led a simple life
Mockingbird may have made Lee a multimillionaire, but the cash didn’t alter her way of life. She lived in a small apartment in New York City and traveled the city by bus. Lee stayed with her sister Alice in a ranch-style one-story home when she went back to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama (distance traveled by train). When Lee needed clean clothing, she went to the laundromat in the neighboring town instead of going to Walmart or a Vanity Fair outlet.
How did Lee spend her money, then? She enjoyed going to casinos, but she preferred to play the quarter slots instead of playing for huge sums. In reality, Lee invested a large portion of her income in humanitarian endeavors, such as supporting educational opportunities (true to her publicity-averse nature, this was done anonymously).
Despite having to relocate to an assisted living facility after suffering a stroke in 2007, Lee was still able to access the things that were significant to her thanks to her unadorned taste. “Books are the things she cares about,” Alice once remarked about Lee. Lee was able to continue reading with the aid of a magnifying glass, which was required owing to her macular degeneration.
The New Yorker
Lee made millions every year from ‘Mockingbird’
When To Kill a Mockingbird was initially released in 1960, it gained a lot of popularity. The book was a bestseller back then, and sales have remained strong over time. The book has now sold over 40 million copies and has been translated into more than 40 different languages.
Lee earned an excellent salary as a result of his fame. The author of Mockingbird continues to get nearly $3 million in royalties annually, according to court documents from a 2012 lawsuit (the case, which argued that Lee’s former agent had duped her into giving him the copyright for Mockingbird, was settled in 2013). Lee never again had a financial need to publish while that kind of money was rolling in.
Celebrity Net Worth
There are discrepancies if Lee actually wanted ‘Watchman’ published
After having a stroke in 2007, Lee continues to struggle with short-term memory impairments, hearing loss, and vision concerns. Given that she had been content for years without publishing another novel, several people began to question the author’s sincerity in wanting to release Go Set a Watchman.
Lee stated in a statement from February 2015 that he was “alive and kicking and delighted as hell with the reception to Watchman.” However, despite that message, inquiries continued. Lee’s sister Alice had stated in a letter from 2011 that Lee would “sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.” In addition, her manuscript might have been found earlier than 2014, as alleged by Lee’s attorney, according to a July 2, 2015, New York Times article.
Others who have met Lee, on the other hand, claim that she is the one who made the decision to publish. Authorities in Alabama looked into the matter but couldn’t find any proof that she had been coerced. Go Set a Watchman was first submitted by Lee in the 1950s with the intention of being published.
Her novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been voted as the best of the century
The first draft of Harper Lee’s book, originally titled Go Set a Watchman, later changed to Atticus, and finally to To Kill a Mockingbird, was completed in 1959. To Kill a Mockingbird was released by J.B. Lippincott Company on July 11, 1960. The book received favorable reviews and became a success right away.
It received multiple honors, including the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It won the title of “Best Novel of the Century” in a Library Journal survey in 1999. The book was ranked by British librarians as one that “every adult should read before they die” in 2006, surpassing the Bible. The book has been printed in more than 30 million copies, and thousands of copies are still sold each year.
She initially pursued a career in law
While attending Monroe County High School, Lee’s enthusiasm for English literature intensified. She enrolled in Montgomery’s all-female Huntingdon College in 1944 before transferring a year later to the University of Alabama to study law from 1945 to 1949.
Michael Brown and his wife helped Harper Lee in focusing on her writing career
Lee made a living in New York by working at the reservation desks of British Overseas Airways Corporation and then Eastern Air Lines. Truman Capote, a budding literary figure who had been her friend, was reunited with her. Capote introduced Lee to Michael Brown and his wife Joy, a lyricist and composer of music.
With the statement, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you wish,” the Browns gave Lee the gift of financial support for a year in 1956. Happy Holidays. Lee now had some free time to finish her book. She also started supporting herself as a writer after that. The Browns also assisted her in locating Maurice Crain as an agent.
Michael Brown – The New York Times
Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom in 2011
Lee has approved almost no requests for interviews or public appearances since the release of To Kill a Mockingbird. She never married and is regarded as a recluse. She accepted numerous honorary degrees but refused to give remarks.
On November 5, 2007, George W. Bush bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Lee in recognition of her great contribution to writing. Harper Lee died peacefully in her sleep on February 19, 2016. She was 89 years old at the time.
President George W. Bush awarding Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harper Lee – KERA News
Otago Daily Times