Alabama closes its Harper Lee investigation

An investigation into the case of Harper Lee, shown here in 2007, has been closed, according to the New York Times.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

An investigation by the state of Alabama into possible elder abuse of Harper Lee has been closed. Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, received a letter from Alabama officials on Friday, the N.Y. Times reports.

Lee, 88, is the author of the beloved 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” yet has never published another book. News earlier this year that a newly discovered manuscript would be published -- as “Go Set a Watchman” -- led some to question whether Lee was capable of fully participating in decisions about her work. Anonymous complaints were made on her behalf.

Alabama’s Department of Human Resources oversaw the inquiry; the N.Y. Times reports the case “has been closed and no evidence of abuse or neglect had been found.”

Over the last 55 years, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, has sold more than 40 million copies. It remains a perennial bestseller, with 400,000 copies sold last year alone.


Although sales figures of “Go Set a Watchman” have not been announced -- the book does not officially go on sale until July -- it appears poised to follow suit. After the book’s sales page first appeared on Amazon, it shot to No. 1 on its bestseller list based on presales alone, and it has consistently remained in the top 20. It’s now at No. 19.

The Alabama Securities Commission, which had conducted the investigation, closed the files in its inquiry into Harper Lee’s case in March.

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