How Did Harper Lee Die – (1926 – 2016)

Date of Birth April 28, 1926 
Date Of Death February 19, 2016
Age 89 Years
Death Cause  Died While Sleeping

Nelle Harper Lee, known as Harper Lee, was an esteemed American novelist born on April 28, 1926. Sadly, she passed away on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89, peacefully in her sleep. She gained worldwide recognition for her iconic 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which not only won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 but also went on to become a classic of modern American literature. 

Lee’s literary influence extended beyond her own works as she assisted her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book “In Cold Blood,” published in 1966. In addition to her acclaimed debut novel, she penned a second work, “Go Set a Watchman,” which was confirmed to be an earlier draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This sequel was published in July 2015. 

Harper Lee’s Early Life Highlights 

Nelle Harper Lee, born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926, was the youngest of four children. Her father was a lawyer and her mother a homemaker. Her name “Harper” honoured a doctor who saved her sister’s life, and “Nelle” was her grandmother’s name spelt backwards. 

You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change! (Harper Lee).

She grew up with her siblings Alice, Louise, and Edwin. Lee’s love for English literature began in high school, under the guidance of her mentor, Gladys Watson. After a year at Huntingdon College and studying law at the University of Alabama, she left without completing her degree. In 1948, she attended a summer program at Oxford University. These early experiences laid the foundation for her remarkable life and career as a writer.

Harper Lee’s Journey to “To Kill a Mockingbird”

There were times when Harper Lee didn’t believe in herself on her way to becoming a famous author. While following her love of writing, she worked at different jobs in New York City after moving there in 1949. Friends gave her a year’s pay to give her time to write, and it changed her life. Her first draught of the book, which was called “Go Set a Watchman,” was sent to publishers in 1956 after she got an agent. 

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it! (Harper Lee).

It was given to Therese von Hohoff Torrey, who saw Lee’s promise but thought the manuscript needed work. With hard work and many changes, “Go Set a Watchman” became “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was published in 1960 and became a classic. The book was an instant hit and went on to win awards like the Pulitzer Prize. It is still considered a classic in literature. The story is about sticking with something even when it gets hard and finding out more about yourself.

Lee’s Personal Life & Relationships 

Harper Lee’s personal life was marked by her dedication to her craft and her close relationships with family and friends. She never married or had children, choosing instead to focus on her writing. In her will, her niece and three nephews were identified as her closest living relatives and heirs, set to receive a portion of her estate through a trust. One of the most notable aspects of her personal life was her enduring friendship with another literary luminary, Truman Capote. Their bond began in the Deep South during the challenging times of the Great Depression and continued throughout their lives, shaping their remarkable journeys in the world of literature.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird! (Harper Lee).

Harper Lee’s Peaceful Passing and Literary Legacy

Harper Lee previously suffered from a stroke in 2007  after that she moved to her hometown in Monroeville, Alabama. Her passing on February 19, 2016, marked the end of a remarkable literary career. She died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 89, in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Her funeral took place at the First United Methodist Church in Monroeville on February 20, where close family and friends gathered to bid farewell. The eulogy was delivered by Wayne Flynt, reflecting on her enduring impact on literature and society.

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing! (Harper Lee).

Following her passing, there was legal contention over whether or not the contents of her will should be kept private. The New York Times has initiated legal action in an effort to have her will made a part of the public record. The newspaper bases its claim on the fact that wills that are submitted to probate courts are normally regarded to be public. In 2018, as a direct result of the litigation, her will was open to public inspection.

Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it! (Harper Lee).

It is Harper Lee’s masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has stood through the ages of time and continues to inspire and stir in-depth conversations on issues of social justice and moral courage, that will ensure her legacy lives on. Her contributions to literature have left an unmistakable impression, which serves as a reminder of the power that stories have to alter both hearts and minds!

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