Harper Lee, the 87-year-old author of
In 2007, Lee was living in an assisted living facility and had recently suffered a stroke when she signed over the rights of
"Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see," the complaint contends. "Harper Lee had no idea she had assigned her copyright" to Pinkus' company, the suit states.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" was published in 1960; the story of a young girl learning about tolerance and racial injustice has sold more than 30 million copies. It won the
It's the only novel that Lee has ever published. Lee has eschewed the spotlight and lived quietly in Alabama for nearly half a century, declining most interview requests and rarely making public appearances.
Her longtime literary agency was McIntosh & Otis, whose principal was Eugene Winick. According to the complaint, Winick fell ill in 2002 and several of his clients were transferred to a company owned by Pinkus, his son-in-law. According to the complaint, McIntosh later won a judgment against Pinkus' company over commissions he diverted from the firm, Bloomberg reports.
A letter that recently came up for auction seems to support the claim that Lee has had vision difficulties. In 2003, she wrote to a friend that she had cataracts and macular degeneration.
Last year, Lee successfully sought to have Pinkus discharged as her agent and to have "To Kill a Mockingbird" royalites reassigned to her. However, Lee's suit contends that he has continued to collect her royalties.