Who Helped Kill the Mockingbird?
I watched a documentary the other night about Harper Lee, called “Hey Boo“.
I’d been thinking about her upcoming court battle with her current agent. Imagine. Stealing the rights to one of the most beloved American novels of all time. Allegedly.
And I wondered why Miss Lee hadn’t written another book since To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean, nearly every page of that masterpiece has one quotable passage. Or two. Or even three.
The documentary indirectly answered the Mystery of Harper Lee’s Retirement for me:
It took her eight years of bumming around in odd jobs before she had a manuscript. She gave it to Tay Hohoff at Lippincott, who described it as a string of stories rather than a novel with a beginning, middle and end. But she saw something in Miss Lee’s writing, and guided her through several rewrites for two and a half years.
How often do editors do that sort of thing anymore? How would they have time? And how many brilliant novels have we lost, because there was no editor to guide the writer?
There have been a lot of conspiracy theories floated, claiming Harper Lee did not write To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the suspected authors being her childhood friend, Truman Capote. But I think we know now who helped Miss Lee write her book.
Oh. And she loved Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch.