'To Kill A Mockingbird' Author Harper Lee Dies at 89

'To Kill A Mockingbird' Author Harper Lee Dies at 89

By Robert Dougherty Feb 19, 2016 12:45 PM
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

To Kill A Mockingbird has a indeliable place in the annuals of movies, literature and popular culture, although it all started from the mind and insights of Harper Lee. Months after that legacy underwent fresh debate with the book's sequel, the famed author has passed away on Feb. 19 at age 89, according to AL.com in her home state of Alabama.

Lee's health had been declining for years after a stroke in 2007, which made the discovery and publication of her manuscript Go Find A Watchman all the more controversaial last summer. Nonetheless, it and To Kill A Mockingbird were her only novels, yet that was all it took for her work to become a touchstone for generations.

Not long after the 1960 publication of Mockingbird, the movie adaptation cemeted its legacy further, and made Gregory Peck best known for his Oscar-winning work as Atticus Finch. In fact, the character in the book and film became so iconic, it made protests over Atticus expressing racist attitudes in Go Find A Watchman all the louder. Yet currently, Aaron Sorkin is preparing to bring the original Mockingbird and Atticus to Broadway next year.

Lee herself became reclusive to the press after the mid 1960s, yet some of her actions in that time period were dramatized in two movies in 2005 and 2006. Capote and Infamous each dramatized how fellow author Truman Capote wrote the true crime classic In Cold Blood and how his friend Lee initially assisted his research, with Catherine Keener playing Lee in Capote alongside Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sandra Bullock playing her in Infamous.

While Lee was a supporting figure in that drama, her life hasn't been the central focus of a movie. Of course, young Scout from Mockingbird has always been widely seen as a younger Lee, although she allegedly told Oprah Winfrey she saw herself more in reclusive but gentle Boo Radley.

For over five decades, Lee's work spoke and revealed more about herself than she did, even if mainly through one story -- albeit a story that changed American pop culture.

Tags: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Capote (2005), Infamous (2006), Harper Lee, Gregory Peck, Catherine Keener, Sandra Bullock
About the Author
Robert Dougherty is a longtime online freelance writer, who wrote reviews, articles & editorials on movies/TV for several years on the now defunct Yahoo Voices.
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