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Law in Popular Culture

Harper Lee Stopped Writing Due to Pressure and Publicity, Friend Says

Posted Aug 8, 2011 11:33 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Why did Harper Lee stop writing after her first, highly celebrated attempt? Because she said what she wanted to in To Kill A Mockingbird, the Birmingham News reports, and she didn’t want to go through all the pressure and publicity again.

The insight came from Rev. Thomas Lane Butts, a friend of Lee’s. He told Australia’s Sunday Telegraph that she disclosed her reasoning to him one evening while the two shared a bottle of scotch. Butts said he guessed his friend, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has an ABA Award named in her honor, stopped writing because she didn’t want to compete with herself.

“She said ‘Bull,’ ” Butts told the Telegraph, and claims that Lee told him she had “two reasons: One, I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill A Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.' ''

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