Prior to the release of a new book about Lee, written by Marja Mills, the famed author says, 'As long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.'
"To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee has denied that she gave approval on the making of a new memoir about her which hits the stores on Tuesday, July 15. In a letter published on Monday, Lee said that the book "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee" was written by a former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills without her approval.
In the letter published by Entertainment Weekly, Lee said that she was "hurt, angry and saddened" after learning that Mills was writing a book about her. She concluded, "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood."
Mills previously was a neighbor of Lee and her sister Alice and stayed in the area for 18 months in 2004. According to the letter, after Lee realized that Mills wanted to write "another book about Harper Lee," she "immediately cut off all contact with Miss Mills, leaving town whenever she headed this way."
Mills and the book's publisher Penguin Press responded to Lee's statement on Tuesday. The publisher said they were "proud" to publish the book. Mills, meanwhile, explained in her own statement that the sisters "were aware I was writing this book and my friendship with both of them continued during and after my time in Monroeville. The stories they shared with me that I recount in the book speak for themselves."
When Penguin Press announced the book in 2011, Lee issued a statement in April 2011 which read, "Contrary to recent news reports, I have not willingly participated in any book written or to be written by Marja Mills. Neither have I authorized such a book. Any claims otherwise are false." Lee also included the statement to her July 14 letter. Her sister's letter to Mills back then, however, suggested that Lee might not understand what she signed because of a stroke she suffered in 2007.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published in 1960. The book was adapted into a movie in 1962 with the same title, starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham.