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Harper Lee and her left behind legacy

Posted by: | February 22, 2016 | No Comment |

February 19, 2016 brought on a brisk morning, in which when you exhaled, you could see puffs of your own breath in the air. Little did we know when we woke up, that we would come about the news that beloved author, Harper Lee, or full name, Nelle Harper Lee, had passed away.

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

The news came to us either by social media, or the ever-existing word-of-mouth. Harper Lee, the author well-known for her pieces To Kill a Mockingbird and it’s prequel/sequel Go Set a Watchman, had passed, and the world responded with heartfelt words of condolences and reasons on why Lee’s works inspired them or touched them.

However, what Lee left was not just her two cherished novels, or many saddened fans, but it was her legacy of writing for the sake of upholding an author’s original craftsmanship that had been lost over the years.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and almost immediately went viral in the print world, going on to win a Pulitzer Prize. However, Lee went through a lot of criticism on her writing to get it to where it was. In a piece by Flavorwire on Harper Lee’s legacy, it’s said that Lee’s editors worked her tirelessly to create Mockingbird into the novel it turned out to be. Over and over, her work wasn’t good enough for the publishing world of New York. Her editors pressured her to mold her novel into something that would be Hollywood-worthy.

Lee expressed her frustration through Jean Louise Finch near the end of her last novel, Go Set a Watchman:

“New York is saying to me right now: you, Jean Louise Finch, are not reacting according to our doctrines regarding your kind, therefore you do not exist. The best minds in the country have told us who you are.”

With how much the New York publishers pressured her and continuously sent her back to revise her novel, Lee’s frustration with New York’s perspective is evident in her writing through “Scout”. 

Lee left the legacy of an American masterpiece. Her initial drafts were said to have been perfectly complex in it’s structure and perspective of Jean Louise Finch. Though in her finalized and published piece in the form of To Kill a Mockingbird, she had to sculpt her writing craft to what New York wanted, she continued to grasp on her craftsmanship as a writer who stood by her artistry in words.

Harper Lee left behind a legacy of cherishing your own craftsmanship in a world of print where editors are constantly asking you to change.

“I think the thing that I most deplore about American writing, and especially in the American theatre, is a lack of craftsmanship. It comes right down to this — the lack of absolute love for language, the lack of sitting down and working a good idea into a gem of an idea. It takes time and patience and effort to turn out a work of art, and few people seem willing to go all the way… I see a great deal of sloppiness and I deplore it. I suppose the reason I’m so down on it is because I see tendencies in myself to be sloppy, to be satisfied with something that’s not quite good enough.” – Harper Lee

under: Comm 455
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