Harper Lee continues to live in Alabama with one publication to her name – To Kill a Mockingbird. I am proud owner of a signed version of her seminal book and have one Harper Lee story to share involving, of all things, a radio pledge drive. I once worked at Alabama Public Radio at the University of Alabama and during one of our pledge drives, a student received a pledge call and rather large donation from a woman named Harper Lee. This student knew who Harper Lee was and gushed over the phone, before Ms. Lee peppered her with questions about her campus experience, where her people were from and more. She also, of course, requested anonymity over the air, so we couldn’t mention her contribution. It was nice to know that Harper Lee was a fan of NPR, but aside from that, much of her life has been a mystery.
Tune in to WOSU TV and PBS tonight to watch this new documentary, HEY BOO, about the To Kill a Mockingbird phenomenon and some of the mysteries surrounding Harper Lee, including why she has never published again. The piece also brings to light the context and history of the novel’s Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication.
Anna Quindlen, Tom Brokaw, Wally Lamb, Richard Russo, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young and others reflect on the novel’s power, influence, and popularity, and the many ways it has shaped their lives.