Up Close: Harper Lee
Kerry Madden
Viking, 2009
978-0-67-001095-0
(hardcover)
 
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Up Close: Harper Lee (Foreword, continued)

So in the spring of 2007, I attended the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery, and then took 1-65 South to Highway 84 West, eventually arriving in Monroeville. My sister, Keely, came with me the first trip to help with all the interviews and research. We went to the Old Courthouse Museum to research the archives and to study newspaper clippings, press releases, and photographs. I made two more trips to Monroeville during the course of writing the book for additional interviews, research, and school visits to do writing workshops with students as part of Alabama Voices.

I came to think of Harper Lee as “Nelle," pronounced “Nail," so in this book I refer to her as Nelle and occasionally Harper. As a girl, she hated it when people mispronounced her name “Nellie," which was why she later chose to use her middle name “Harper" when To Kill A Mockingbird was published.

Many people declined to speak out of respect for her privacy, but others did want to share their stories. We found classmates, colleagues, and even Miss Lee’s older sister, Miss Alice Finch Lee, age 96, whom we disturbed at work where she was reading a law brief. Alice Lee is one of the oldest working attorneys in the United States, and she still goes to the office three days a week. She calls her sister, “Nelle Harper," and she respectfully declined to grant us an interview.

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