Harper Lee: New documentary provides insight into author's life


Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House


Chip Somodevilla

Harper Lee once said that she wanted to be South Alabama's Jane Austen. Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, won the Pulitzer Prize. However, in 1964, Lee stopped speaking to the press and never published another book. Her life has remained shrouded in mystery since.  

Now, a new PBS documentary, Hey Boo, sheds new light onto Lee's life, chronicling how her famous book came to be written. Featuring interviews with Lee's sister, Alice Lee Finch, the documentary adds some context and history to the beloved novel. 

It also asks the question on everyone's mind. Why didn't Lee publish again? 

"She just wanted out,” her sister said. According to the Washington Post, while it's logical to look for the real Harper in the character of Scout, it might be more appropriate to find her in the guise of Boo Radley.

Now, more than 50 years after its initial publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide and still sells almost one million copies each year. 

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Alice said that her sister “grew up quite the little tomboy” and later became a novelist who “did not think that a writer needed to be recognized in person and it bothered her when she became too familiar.”

“I don’t know whether she couldn’t do it, but I prefer to think that she wouldn’t do it," said author Anna Quindlen, the Washington Post reported. 

Watch a preview of the documentary below:

Watch Harper Lee: Hey, Boo on PBS. See more from American Masters.