American author Harper Lee (b. 1926) is best known for her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which, for decades, was her only published work. Lee was long considered to be the classic “one novel wonder,” even though her one novel is a standard in American high school and college English classes. Lee’s fans, however, had mixed reactions to the 2015 publication of an early draft of that novel, Go Set a Watchman.
Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama, and attended both Huntington College and the University of Alabama, but never completed a degree. In 1949, she moved to New York City with the intention of becoming a writer, finding an agent by 1956 and delivering the manuscript of her first novel, entitled “Go Set a Watchman” in 1957. At the behest of publishers, Lee made major revisions to the work, producing To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960.
Following publication, Lee assisted her childhood friend Truman Capote on his nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood. She refused, however, to grant many interviews over the following decades, and supposedly abandoned other books she was writing. Her long silence and lack of publication remained part of the Harper Lee mythos.
By 2011, Harper Lee was living in an assisted-living facility, but publication of Go Set a Watchman proceeded, despite controversy. Speculation continues as to whether other Harper Lee novels, completed in the past decades, are waiting for publication.