Harper Lee: Global tributes to ‘brilliant and powerful' writer

Flowers are placed on a statue of a girl reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, in memorial of Lee in Monroeville, Alabama. Picture by Brynn Anderson, Associated Press
Flowers are placed on a statue of a girl reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, in memorial of Lee in Monroeville, Alabama. Picture by Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

HARPER Lee, creator of one of the greatest literary classics with the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, was hailed as as brilliant and powerful writer from her fans across the globe.

Tributes came from a wide range of politicians, writers, celebrities and other public figures along with generations of everyday readers who just loved her landmark work on racism, justice and human rights.

Businesswoman, talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey tweeted: "Harper Lee my 1st favorite author! I always wanted to interview her. She said" honey I already said everything I had to say". #RIPHarperLee

The book was turned into an Oscar winning film in 1962, starring Robert Duvall. He played Boo Radley alongside Gregory Peck who starred as white Southern lawyer Atticus Finch who was defending a black man has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

In a statement Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter: "Harper Lee was a fine person and a wonderful writer.

"To Kill A Mockingbird was a masterpiece. I was privileged to be in the film version adapted to the screen by her good friend Horton Foote.

"I only hope that the film did justice to the book. She will be fondly remember by many."

"I remember when I started production Harper Lee sent me a telegram that simply said 'Hey, Boo'. I was so proud to be a part of that film."

Aaron Sorkin, the writer of The West Wing and The Social Network who is doing a Broadway adaptation of the novel, told The Guardian: "Like millions of others, I was saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Harper Lee, one of America's most beloved authors."

Ava DuVernay, director of the civil rights drama Selma, posted a black and white photograph from the film above a quote from Lee which read: "You never really understand a person... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Thank you, #HarperLee.

Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon narrated the audiobook for Go Set A Watchman, the 2015 To Kill A Mockingbird sequel.

In an Instagram tribute, including a photo of Lee as a young woman, she wrote: "I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to read and give voice to Harper Lee's brilliant words. Her perspective helped me, as a young reader and southern woman, understand the place that I grew up in, with all its glory and its flaws.

"Her romantic view of the south – with all its open charm and warmth – never shielded us from the divisive attitudes running rampant through our beloved society. She revealed it all... the glory and the fear and the hate and the beauty.

"May she rest in peace. #HarperLee #RIP"

In a statement, former president George W Bush wrote: "Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the death of a legendary novelist and lovely lady, Miss Harper Lee.

"Harper Lee was ahead of her time and her masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird prodded America (to) catch up with her. Even decades after its publication, her hero Atticus Finch inspires every read (sic).

"As I said when I honoured Harper Lee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, 'One reason To Kill A Mockingbird succeeded is the wise and kind heart of the author, which comes through on every page. This daughter of Monroeville, Alabama, had something to say about honour and tolerance and, most of all, love – and it still resonates'.

"Laura and I are grateful for Harper Lee and her matchless contributions to humanity and to the character of our country."

Apple chief executive Tim Cook included a line from Lee's famous book in tribute, tweeting: "Rest in peace, Harper Lee.

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich added: " You know what... #TKAMB is a book that changed my life. Maybe i should write one. Harper Lee inspired me & hopefully I can pay it forward".

Actor Matthew Modine, best known for his role in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, also tweeted a tribute evoking her award-winning book: "Bless you #HarperLee Thank you for the chance to get inside the skin of Atticus. You made us all more conscious."

Daryl Hannah, star of the movie Splash, said: "Thank you Harper Lee for Atticus Boo Scout & the rest .... Peace", in her tweet and included a photo of one of the many book covers for To Kill A Mockingbird.

Modern Family actress Ariel Winter tweeted a picture of a quote from the book: "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for" while actress Debra Messing wrote: "Oh no. The Great Harper Lee has passed away. She changed the world with To Kill A Mockingbird."

Writer Erica Jong tweeted a tribute which included the quote: "Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the civil liberties organisation, said that reading TKAM made her want to become a lawyer.

She told The Guardian: "I wasn't the first led into law by Atticus Finch, and I won't be the last. I realise it is less admired by scholars than by fans ('sugar water served with humour', wrote one critic). But it is this simplicity and lack of pretension that helps it pack its considerable punch. It is accessible, touchingly human and intimate; it also tackles enduring questions of discrimination and injustice."

Horror writer Stephen King looked back at the legendary friendship between Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote.

Both writers penned mid-century masterpieces – Lee with To Kill A Mockingbird and Capote with In Cold Blood.

King tweeted: "Let's celebrate the life of Harper Lee, who wrote an American classic and helped her friend Truman Capote write another."