WTF Is Going on with the New Harper Lee Biography?

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Harper Lee, the To Kill a Mockingbird author who turns 85 today, is one of literature’s most famous recluses. She hasn’t published another book since Mockingbird came out in 1960, and hasn’t granted an interview since midway through that decade. This week, Penguin Press announced that former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills’s forthcoming biography of Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, was written with the author’s cooperation. But yesterday, Lee issued the following statement: “Contrary to recent news reports, I have not willingly participated in any book written or to be written by Marja Mills. Neither have I authorized such a book. Any claims otherwise are false.” According to Mills’s agent, “prior to Harper Lee’s stroke in 2007, she had the verbal support of Harper Lee.” So, now it’s an American hero’s word against the word of a reporter who stands to make a lot of money on a book that promises to reveal said hero’s secrets. Call us crazy, but we’re going to have to go with Team Harper.