Harper Lee Groused About Town Trying to Exploit Her

'They are trying to turn Harper Lee into a tourist attraction like Graceland and Elvis Presley'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2019 11:23 AM CDT
Harper Lee, in a 2007 photo.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

(Newser) To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee railed against her Alabama hometown for trying to exploit her success, registering her complaints in a letter that helps explain later legal battles involving commercialization of her novel. The writer's bitter assessment of Monroeville comes in a three-page letter that's being sold with other items by Bonhams auction house, per the AP. Lee used Monroeville as the model for fictional Maycomb, Ala., in her landmark book about racial injustice in the Jim Crow South. But in the letter she wrote to a friend in 1993, Lee complained that leaders were trying to take advantage of her name to attract an influx of visitors.

"What was once a tiny town of considerable characters is now six times its size and populated by appalling people," Lee wrote to Charles Carruth, per AL.com. "Guess what: they are trying to turn Harper Lee into a tourist attraction like Graceland and Elvis Presley. They are raising over $1 million to restore the old courthouse because the courtroom was used as the model for the courtroom in the film of 'Mockingbird!'" Lee also complained about billboards designed to lure people into the city and delivered this shot: "The hypocrites in charge, not a one of whom I know, say they are driving this to 'honor me.' What they are doing is trying to drown me in their own bad taste, and embarrassing me beyond endurance." Lee spent the final years of her life in disputes over the use of her book to promote Monroeville. She died in 2016.

(Read more Harper Lee stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |  
10%
12%
40%
15%
2%
21%