You Can Now Hear Harper Lee Discussing Her Famous Novel

'As charming and thoughtful as the novel that made her so famous'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2016 5:39 PM CST

(Newser) – Available only to scholars for decades, on the date of Harper Lee's death last week the UCLA Library Special Collections released what may be the only recorded interview of Lee talking about her most famous work, according to a press release. And while the transcript of her 1964 interview with New York radio station WQXR has been available for a while, the recording "lets listeners hear Lee's Southern accent, her occasional drags on a cigarette, and her humor," as the Los Angeles Times puts it. According to the Smithsonian, Lee comes off "as charming and thoughtful as the novel that made her so famous" during the 11-minute interview. Listen to it here. (Note: The sound improves after a minute or so.)

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"I never expected the book would sell in the first place," Lee says of To Kill a Mockingbird. "I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers." She's similarly modest about her goals, which include becoming the "Jane Austen of South Alabama." “I think I want to do the best I can with the talent that God gave me, I suppose," she says. Other topics include a new novel she's working on and her love of writing. "I'm afraid I like it too much, because when I get into work, I don't want to leave it," she says. "As a result, I'll go for days and days and days without leaving my house." In addition to possibly being the only recorded interview of Lee discussing To Kill a Mockingbird, it's also believed to be one of the final interviews she ever gave. (Read more Harper Lee stories.)

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