Harper Lee’s Private Memorial: ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Dead At 89

Harper Lee may have published a book that has sold over 40 million copies around the world since its publication in 1960, but no news reporters or police officers were spotted at her memorial on Saturday, according to the New York Times.

The guest list was relatively short – about 40 people, including Harper Lee’s family, relatives, and friends from her native town, as well as New York City, where the To Kill a Mockingbird author lived when she had written the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is centered around racial inequality in the South of America in the times of Jim Crow. The novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, has inspired generations of readers and was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie directed by Robert Mulligan. And while the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been loved by generations of readers for its warmth and humor, it still deals with serious issues such as rape and racial inequality.

Her coffin, adorned with red and white roses, was taken into the church, as a dense fog descended upon Monroeville, Harper Lee’s hometown. Those attending the service, which lasted about an hour, gathered at the First United Methodist Church, which the To Kill a Mockingbird author attended for many years.

After the quiet and private memorial service for Harper Lee, the church was accessible for other people who wanted to sympathize with the family and offer them their best wishes. Harper Lee was buried at Pineville Cemetery next to her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, as well as her mother, Frances, and her sister, Alice.

Harper Lee died at the age of 89 in her sleep, early Friday morning. During the last years of her life, Harper Lee lived in an assisted living facility at the Meadows. Wayne Flynt, Ms. Lee’s close friend and professor emeritus of history at Auburn University, gave the eulogy, in which he revealed that one of Ms. Lee’s last wishes was for him to speak only about her writing during the service.

“We gather today to honor a person, a writer, her father, her mother, her siblings and her novel. That is a bit more than I can manage in 15 minutes so I will stick with the novel.”

In the last years of her life, Harper Lee was partly blind and deaf and had to use a magnifying machine to read. Her family and friends were worried that the list of those who were allowed to pay Harper Lee visits at the assisted living facility significantly decreased over time. Some people believed that Ms. Lee’s lawyer – Tonja B. Carter, who is the trustee of Ms. Lee’s estate – was trying to isolate her.

In 2015, Harper Lee published her second book, titled Go Set a Watchman, which became a best-selling book of 2015 across the United States.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a story set in 1930s Alabama that outlines the importance of standing up for justice. According to theGuardian, To Kill a Mockingbird was “a nuanced portrait of a society on the brink of radical change.” Although Harper Lee could not personally experience nor relate to racism, she could observe it around her, as noted by the news source.

A few weeks ago, it was reported that Aaron Sorkin, director of The Newsroom, The Social Network, and Steve Jobs, will adapt To Kill a Mockingbird for Broadway. The Guardian noted that although this kind of “longevity does not generally happen with one-dimensional art, however much its contours get smoothed out.”

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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