Author Harper Lee has finally approved a digital version of To Kill a Mockingbird. The iconic author made the announcement on her 88th birthday, which was Monday. Lee also granted permission for an audio version of the classic novel.
Both the e-book and audiobook will be published by HarperCollins. Fans will have access to both versions beginning July 8.
Harper Lee was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama. At a young age she was gifted with an Underwood typewriter by her father. Although she wrote numerous stories, she only published one novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird was originally published in 1960. The Southern Gothic novel explores numerous issues including, class, racial inequality, and traditional gender roles during the Great Depression.
The novel is set in Macomb County, Alabama. The main character, Scout, is a 6-year-old girl who lives with her brother and widowed father — Atticus Finch. As the novel begins, Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill, are intrigued by a reclusive neighbor named “Boo” Radley.
Although it has not been confirmed, it is believed that the character Scout was modeled after Lee herself. It is also believed that the character of Jem was based on author Truman Capote, who was Lee’s childhood friend.
To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee’s only published novel. While she assisted Capote in his research for In Cold Blood, she was not formally credited for the work.
Although the book was originally met with mixed reviews, it eventually became a best seller.
In 1962, the novel was adapted into an Oscar-winning film, which starred Gregory Peck. By 1964, To Kill a Mockingbird was honored with a Pulitzer Prize, a Brotherhood Award, and designated as Paperback of the Year.
As reported by BBC, the iconic novel was translated into 40 languages. The English version alone has sold more than 30 million copies.
Although her novel was a great success, author Harper Lee has been hesitant to discuss her work. Lee is rarely seen in public, and stopped granting interviews in the late 1960s.
Lee was also hesitant to grant rights for an audiobook or e-book, which disappointed numerous fans worldwide.
On Monday, HarperCollins president Michael Morrison announced the good news:
“Every home has a dog-eared copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, and now readers will be able to add this favorite book to their digital library… Although today is Nelle Harper Lee’s birthday, she is giving readers around the world the gift of being able to read or listen to this extraordinary story in all formats.”
Morrison also revealed that the e-book will include “extra exclusive content,” which is not available in print. The audiobook, which is narrated by Sissy Spacek, will be a downloadable version of the previously recorded CD.
Harper Lee did not discuss her decision in depth. However, she did say, “This is a Mockingbird for a new generation.” She also revealed that she is “still old-fashioned,” and she prefers traditional books, as opposed to e-books.
[Image via CDN]