Harper Lee says new biography is unauthorized

July 16, 2014

By: NPR's Annalisa Quinn

AP/File
Author Harper Lee smiles during a 2007 ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama.

Former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills says her just-released biography of Harper Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, was written with "the trust, support and encouragement" of Lee and her older sister, Alice.

But in a statement this week, the 88-year-old Lee countered, "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood."

In 2004, Mills moved next door in Monroeville, Ala., and befriended the sisters, who, according to the book's description, "decided to let Mills tell their story."

Lee says that, in fact, she "cut off all contact" with Mills after realizing her intentions: "It did not take long to discover Marja's true mission: another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised."

Mills points to a letter from Alice that "makes clear that Nelle Harper Lee and Alice gave me their blessing."

In her statement, Lee notes that her sister "would have been 100 years old" when that letter was written.

via NPR's The Two-Way