Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird was never able to write another novel that matched the depth of the American classic. In fact, she was never able to write another novel of any kind. Blessed and cursed by overnight success, she left her hometown of Monroreville, Alabama for the literary and social whirlwind of New York, and the company of her childhood friend, Truman Capote. Now at age 88, slowed and blinded by stroke, she has returned to her birthplace, and lives in an assisted living facility for the aged and infirm, while her small hometown capitalizes on her fame through exploitive tourist attractions that are associated with her legacy. Her later years have been spent fighting to regain control of the valuable copyright for Mockingbird (it continues to sell briskly) and recently, combatting the release of a biography that she says she never cooperated with. This is the heartbreaking cautionary tale of the end of the road of an American literary icon.
The Decline of Harper Lee
by Boris Kachka for New York Magazine