“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” — Harper Lee
Thousands took to social media to mourn Pulitzer Prize-winning author and lifelong equal-rights defender Harper Lee, who died Friday at age 89.
Lee died Friday in her hometown—Monroeville, Alabama—where she wrote her famed 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“It has never been out of print and is perhaps the most widely loved American novel of the past half-century,” The Guardian reported. “The book was seen by many as saying something good, something important about America itself.”
The book’s message had underlying liberal values and established Lee as a proponent of fairness among races—an uncommon belief in the South at the time of its release.
The New York Times described “To Kill a Mockingbird” as a “stark morality tale of a righteous Southern lawyer who stands firm against racism and mob rule struck a chord with Americans, many of them becoming aware of the civil rights movement for the first time.”
The book was made into a 1962 movie featuring Robert Duvall as Boo Radley and starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch—named the Greatest Film Hero of All Time by the American Film Institute in 2003.
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Lee shunned the limelight. The Times described her life after its publication:
But for more than half a century a second novel failed to turn up, and Ms. Lee gained a reputation as a literary Garbo, a recluse whose public appearances to accept an award or an honorary degree counted as important news simply because of their rarity. On such occasions she did not speak, other than to say a brief thank you.
Although widely acknowledged for her ethicality, storytelling prowess and strong sense of hope, it was Lee’s words that most greatly inspired generations of Americans.
As news of her death spread, Lee received enormous praise online for speaking her mind. Here’s a sampling of how social media users paid tribute to the author, many using her own powerful words:
Lee’s storytelling prowess garnered the majority of attention online. Many tweets included the hashtag #literarylegend and praised “To Kill a Mockingbird” for its guidance to writers:
As many remembered first encountering her work in school, Twitter users gave thanks to Lee for instilling in them an early love for reading:
Sen. Rand Paul joined those remembering the late author, saying Lee “created great American literature”:
HarperCollins Publishers released the author’s second novel, “ Go Set a Watchman
,” last July.
On Friday, HarperCollins’ publisher and Lee’s longtime friend Michael Morrison said in a statement:
The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to—in private—surrounded by books and the people who loved her. I will always cherish the time I spent with her.
How do you remember Harper Lee? What about her work has influenced you most in your life?