Lee was born 28 April 1926, in Monroeville Alabama. She was the youngest of four children of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. At approximately 34 years of age, Harper Lee successfully published, “To Kill A Mockingbird” after having moved to New York City to pursue a career as a writer. The year of publication was 1960, and her title referencing consequences of the legal system relative to a) rape and b) ethnicity was at the very least ground-breaking. Perhaps this is why Harper Lee lived to the ripe age of 89 – she was blessed for her convictions delivered artistically to us through fictional narrative. Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and often stated she wasn’t a highly educated woman but she was known for being very modest.
Harper’s original manuscript, “Go Set a Watchman” was published last summer under some controversy because of her health there was questioned in reference to her capability to be involved in the production of the title; however, “Go Set a Watchman” expands on Mockingbird characters in a more realistic – less theatric guise. Having grown up in a Bible reading family. Lee’s titles reflected scriptures oftentimes. Her latest book release was aligned to Isaiah 21:6: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”
Dr. Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn, author of eleven books, and one of the most recognized and honored scholars of Southern history, politics, and religion also Ms. Lee’s longtime friend, eulogized her in a ceremony at the First United Methodist Church in Monroeville Alabama. Harper Lee was interned in an adjacent cemetery where her sister, Alice Lee and her parents, A.C. Lee and Frances Finch Lee are buried. Flynt’s eulogy titled, “Atticus Inside Ourselves” was based on Harper Lee’s request for him to use the Birmingham Pledge Foundation Award for racial justice because she liked the speech so much she wanted it presented as her eulogy. Flynt shared, “Harper said . . . I want you to say exactly that. Not one thing more, and not one thing less.” Flynt described Harper Lee as “A woman from the Southern edge of the Black Belt, chosen as the great prophet of justice and tolerance in America in the late 20th Century.”
Harper Lee’s family stated she desired a quiet funeral with close friends and family with no pomp and fanfare. Truly, the literary world and the world generally has been bettered by the presence and tenacity of Harper Lee and her writing.