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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

We All Know About 'Mockingbird,' But What of Harper Lee's Role in This Other American Classic?

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The country has been mourning the loss of one of its most beloved novelists, Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. But The Wichita Eagle recently pointed out Lee’s role in the writing of another American classic, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Harper Lee and Capote had been friends since childhood.

In 1959 the Clutter family were found murdered at their farmhouse near the western Kansas town of Holcomb. When Capote went out to Kansas to write his book on the murders, Lee tagged along. Capote’s friend helped his efforts a great deal. Lee, unlike Capote, was likable on first impression—and utterly devoted to Capote’s effort.

She followed Capote as he wandered around town knocking on doors and accosting strangers. Lee helped to smooth the strange demeanor of the little man with the squeaky voice. She even took notes for Capote.

UPDATE: UCLA has just released a rare interview with Harper Lee from its archives. Listen here.