A letter from Harper Lee, the 80-year old Pulitzer Prize-winning author or To Kill A Mockingbird, is appearing in this July’s O Magazine. This would not be a story, except for the fact Lee stopped giving interviews about 40 years ago and, other than a 1983 review of an Alabama history book, has published nothing of significance in some four decades.
In her letter to Oprah, Lee tells of her discovery of books as a girl growing up in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town. She writes about the scarcity of books in the 1930s in Monroeville, where she grew up and still lives for part of the year. That deficit, combined with a lack of anything else to do – no movies for kids, no parks for games – made books especially treasured, she writes.
“Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.”
While the literati has likened Lee to Ralph Ellison and J.D. Salinger for her reclusiveness, the Mobile Register says she is far from reclusive. Accordingto the paper, Lee has been described by friends and neighbors as “amiable,” “serious about golf,” “charming,” and “at times cantankerous.”