Saying thank you for a box of chocolates doesn’t normally make headlines, but a British reporter’s brief encounter with Harper Lee has made it newsworthy. Although Lee once palled around with Truman Capote — they grew up together in Alabama — she avoided the spotlight as much as he embraced it. Now 84, Lee lives quietly in a small Alabama town, 50 years after the publication of her famous novel.
That book, of course, is “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the widely read tale of the segregation-era South featuring young Scout and her highly moral father, Atticus Finch. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, was made into a film starring Gregory Peck (nominated for eight Oscars, it won three) and in a 1999 survey by Library Journal was deemed “The Best Novel of the Century.”
After the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Lee declined to publish again. She has rarely granted interviews and has turned down most appearance requests. So when she recently spoke to a reporter for the Daily Mail, it’s no wonder that the literary world paid attention — even if what she said revealed little.