Harper Lee, author of the critically and commercially successful book To Kill a Mockingbird which was published in 1960, has died in her home-town of Monroeville, Alabama.
The news was confirmed via a statement released on behalf of her family which said Lee:
“passed away early this morning in her sleep. Her passing was unexpected.”
A flood of tributes to the writer have since poured in via social media with her name becoming the top trend on Twitter in a matter of minutes.
Barack Obama also paid tribute to Lee on Facebook saying:
“Atticus, he was real nice.”
“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
When Harper Lee sat down to write To Kill a Mockingbird, she wasn’t seeking awards or fame. She was a country girl who just wanted to tell an honest story about life as she saw it.
But what that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other, and then the way we saw ourselves. Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities, and our country.
Ms. Lee changed America for the better. And there is no higher tribute we can offer her than to keep telling this timeless American story – to our students, to our neighbors, and to our children – and to constantly try, in our own lives, to finally see each other.
To Kill a Mockingbird sold more than 30 million copies around the world and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Lee only published the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, last year.
The novelist was born Nelle Harper Lee on 28 April 1926, the youngest of four children, and had always lived a guarded, private life, rarely giving interviews.