In this age where authors are expected to tweet, update their Facebook pages, use Instagram to promote their books, and even dabble in Pinterest/Snapchat/what-have-you, it’s really enough to make you nostalgic for an era where an author could write a book, have it be a massive success, and then generally disappear from public view if they wanted to. Salinger managed it. Harper Lee too.
Remembering Harper Lee is a delicate thing. For many people, her book TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (which has been almost entirely checked out of the Evanston Public Library system, and for good reason) is personal to them. People name their children “Atticus” and “Scout” in honor of the books. She managed to write an honest-to-goodness timeless book. Consider that just last year when GO SET A WATCHMEN was released there was enormous debate in various literary circles not just about its merit but its origins and how it all reflected back on MOCKINGBIRD.
In the end, I think the best we can do is read Lee’s book, remember it, and look at some of the lovelier tributes out there today to her life and work. She may have kept a low profile, but her shadow loomed large. It still does.
- The New York Times obituary
- Highlights from the life of Harper Lee
- “The Measure of Harper Lee: A Life Shaped by a Towering Text” at NPR
- The top Kindle highlights from To Kill a Mockingbird
- From The Washington Post, “Authors, CEOs and Publishing World Offer Up Tributes to Harper Lee”
- Actors from To Kill a Mockingbird recall Harper Lee at The Hollywood Reporter
- From The Guardian, a collection of Harper Lee’s wisest words
- A look at how the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird has changed over time
- A collection of New Yorker essays about Harper Lee