To Kill a Mockingbird Author Harper Lee Dead at 89

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Harper Lee. Photo: TERRENCE ANTONIO JAMES/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

Author Harper Lee has died at the age of 89 in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, AL.com reports. Lee was born and raised in the town, renamed Maycomb in her novels, and attended the University of Alabama before moving to New York City to fulfill her literary ambitions. She spent the 1950s trying her hand at short stories and writing Go Set a Watchman, a novel about the conflict between her idyllic childhood memories and the bitter racism of the Jim Crow South.

On the advice of an editor, Lee reworked the novel into To Kill a Mockingbird, an immediate literary sensation that won her the Pulitzer Prize as well as nationwide fame. Lee's discomfort with her celebrity became the stuff of legend, as the author spent the last 50 years of her life avoiding contact with the press, and claimed for decades that she would never publish another novel. Those promises proved untrue with last year's publication of Watchman, an event that proved controversial due to lingering doubts that Lee had truly consented to its release.