Harper Lee, age 88, may be considered a “one hit wonder” in the literary world, but what a hit it was. She might never have penned anything after To Kill a Mockingbird, but she really did not have to. Even without any other books, she ended up doing some really great things.
HARPER LEE GOT THE BEST OF A NARROW MINDED SCHOOL BOARD
Back in 1966, a school board in Virginia decided to remove every copy they had of To Kill a Mockingbird from their school libraries. They called the book “immoral” and “indecent”. Lee was completely livid so she wrote a flaming letter to a newspaper in Richmond, which reproached the actions of the entire group actions.
In the letter she stated that she had heard about the activities of the Hanover County School Board, and that due to what she had heard made her question if any of the school board members could even actually read. She then compared all the officials in question to dictators and topped off her classic beat-down by adding a “small contribution” that she stated she hoped it would be used to register the Hanover County School Board into any first grade of their choosing.
HARPER LEE ACTUALLY HELPED TRUMAN CAPOTE WORK ON IN COLD BLOOD
Lee was friend with Truman Capote from childhood and he asked her if she would go with him on a trip to the small town of Holcomb, Kansas back in 1959. He told her that he wanted to investigate the recent murders of an entire family which had happened under very odd circumstances.
However it was not long before Capote found out that his friend was able to talk to the locals on a much easier basis. This ended up being an asset which proved vital to his hard work. Lee was so devoted to the case that she ended up writing over 150 pages of notes for Capote and also took a seven day vacation during the production of To Kill a Mockingbird ‘s movie adaptation to rejoin Truman in Kansas so that they could further scrutinize all of the suspects. Capote’s book became a best-seller, telling about the incident. In Cold Blood would become an instant hit.
HARPER LEE WAS AWARDED THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM
Harper Lee has always been a person that usually refuses requests to do interviews, but she ended up making a rare public appearance back in 2007. That was the year she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Along with Lee, other recipients included geneticist Francis Collins and former House committee chairman Henry Hyde.
HARPER LEE PENNED AN EMOTIONAL DEFENSE OF LIBRARIES AND BOOKS
Back in 2006, Lee wrote up an open letter that was printed in Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine that talked about her deep love for books. What she wrote there needs to be required reading for anyone who considers himself or herself a bookworm.
She stated that in a society where people have iPods, laptops and minds that are like empty rooms, she said she still stuck with books because instant information was not for her. She preferred to look through library stacks because when she worked to learn something, she remembered it. She explained that she believed some things should only happen on soft pages and not cold metal.
So the “one hit wonder” of the literary world had much more to say and write even if it never went into book form.
By Kimberly Ruble