Nanny Sues The Help Author

Kathryn Stockett turned her into character, says brother's nanny

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 23, 2011 3:26 AM CST

(Newser) – Author Kathryn Stockett's best-seller The Help borrows a little too heavily from real life and from one life in particular, according to a nanny suing the author. Ablene Cooper says the book's character "Aibeleen"—who, like her, is a middle-aged black nanny with a gold tooth whose son died before she started working for her employers—is based on her and she finds the portrayal humiliating, ABC News reports. Cooper works for Stockett's brother, who has taken the nanny's side in the dispute.

"Ain’t too many Ablenes," says Cooper. She is seeking $75,000 from Stockett and says she asked the author not to use her name or likeness. The lawsuit doesn't request punitive damages or attorneys' fees. Stockett ignored the request, despite knowing that doing so would be "emotionally upsetting and highly offensive to Ablene," Cooper's lawyer says. The novel, set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early '60s, has been made into a movie that will be released this summer. (Click for more on the 'dirty secrets' of The Help.)

This is a beautifully written work of fiction and we don't think there is any basis to the legal claims, Cooper's publisher says.
"This is a beautifully written work of fiction and we don't think there is any basis to the legal claims," Cooper's publisher says.   (AP Photo/Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, has described the novel as fiction, by and large.
Kathryn Stockett, author of "The Help," has described the novel as "fiction, by and large."   (AP Photo/Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Kem Lee)
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