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Lee Confirms Cooperation with “Mockingbird” Memoir

Harper Lee

Controversy erupted in April surrounding Marja Mills’ book The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee, when Lee’s law firm released a statement denying any cooperation with the writer. In response to the denial, Mills sent an e-mail through her publisher Penguin Press to the New York Times, stating that “Harper Lee, known as Nelle to many of her friends, and her sister, Alice Lee, were wonderfully generous with their time and insights over the years as I researched my book.” She also produced a signed statement from Alice Lee “affirming she and her sister, Nelle Harper Lee, cooperated with the project.”

Mills, formerly a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, relocated to the Lee sisters’ home town of Monroeville, AL for about a year to spend time with the women and learn about their life. She had built a relationship with the Lees over more than a decade, often traveling to visit them, before her move. When Penguin Press announced Mills book last month, it was billed as “the story of Mills’ friendship with the two women, recounting all the Lee sisters have to say about their life in Alabama, their upbringing, how To Kill a Mockingbird impacted their lives, and why Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.”

According to an article on The Seattle Times website posted Monday, Alice Lee released a statement confirming that she and Harper had cooperated with Mills. Alice, who is a partner in the law firm Barnett, Bugg, Lee & Carter, which had released the incorrect statement of denial said that “the statement was prepared without her knowledge and ‘does not represent’ the feelings of either sister.”

The Mockingbird Next Door is slated for release in 2013.

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