Tag: Harper Lee

New Book Offers Glimpse Into the Life of Harper Lee

“Afternoons with Harper Lee” (NewSouth Books, 2022) by Wayne Flynt

Among the millions of documents preserved in the Birmingham Public Library Archives, there is a brief, handwritten letter from Harper Lee to a fellow writer. In the letter, Lee explains that she cannot read a book that has been sent to her and lists a variety of ailments that have made reading difficult. “As Gilda Radner would say.” Lee writes, “It’s always something.”

This is one of the items that archives staff regularly bring out to show visitors, although it is wasted on 21st century college and high school students, who rarely have a clue who Gilda Radner was or that she was one of the comic geniuses of the last century.

But what makes this letter intriguing is that it tells us something about the life and tastes of a widely beloved but intensely private author. Like many people, Harper Lee watched Saturday Night Live and quoted lines from the show.

Small nuggets like this are at the heart of Wayne Flynt’s new book, “Afternoons with Harper Lee.” Flynt, a professor of history at Auburn University, and his wife Dartie, befriended Lee after a stroke forced her to leave New York and return to her hometown in Monroeville. Read more.