"In 1957 Miss Lee submitted the manuscript of her novel to the J. B. Lippincott Company. She was told that her novel consisted of a series of short stories strung together, and she was urged to rewrite it. For the next two and a half years she reworked the manuscript with the help of her editor, Tay Hohoff, and in 1960 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was published, her only published book.
In 1961 she had two articles published: "Love - In Other Words" in Vogue, and "Christmas To Me" in McCall's. "Christmas To Me" is the story of Harper Lee receiving the gift of a year's time for writing from friends. "When Children Discover America" was published in McCall's in 1965.
In June of 1966, Harper Lee was one of two people named by President Johnson to the National Council of Arts. Also named to the 26 member council was artist Richard Diebenkorn Jr.
There has not been as much published on the doings of Miss Lee since 1966."
ARTICLE by Judith Handschuh
"[...] A few years ago, when a 35th anniversary edition of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was being prepared, a publisher asked her to write an introduction for the book. She wrote, "Please spare 'Mockingbird' an Introduction. As a reader I loathe Introductions. To novels I associate Introductions with long-gone authors and works that are brought back into print after decades of interment...'Mockingbird'... has never been out of print and I am still alive...It still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble."
We do know that she was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, and that she lived next door to Truman Capote. They were childhood friends, and that friendship continued until his death in 1984. She traveled to Kansas with him to help him with his research when he was writing IN COLD BLOOD.
We also know that Lee lives in New York, while her sister still lives in Monroeville. She visits her sister frequently and is sometimes seen having lunch or shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly. But no one can (or is willing) to talk about her.
In an era when authors become instant celebrities, appearing on countless talk shows and at book readings and signings, she is an enigma.
But I think we can learn a lot about her by reading TO KILLcA MOCKINGBIRD. I think it is more autobiographical than we realize --- I suspect that she is Scout, that Atticus Finch is her father, and that her dear friend Truman Capote is Dill. That is probably all she wants us to know, and all we need to know.
--- Judith Handschuh