Six Intimate Harper Lee Letters Could Fetch $250,000 at Christie’s
A group of six private letters by Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, are set to go under the hammer at Christie’s New York on June 12—a month before the release of her highly-anticipated prequel, titled, Go Set a Watchman.
Due to Lee’s intensely private nature, extraordinarily little is known about the personal life of the 89-year-old author. Her recipients’ defense of the novelist’s privacy has prevented all but a tiny fraction of her letters to come up at auction.
To date, the largest sale of correspondence penned by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is a group of 13 letters written to a fan, Don Salter, who consigned them to Nate D. Sanders Auction House in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The six letters in the Christie’s sale have been valued at $250,000. In one, Rebecca Mead relays in the New Yorker, Lee describes wanting to submit a thank you note to a reviewer of To Kill a Mockingbird, while also acknowledging that “one is not supposed to be aware that critics, reviewers, and English teachers exist.”
Tom Lecky, head of Christies department of books and manuscripts told the New York Times, “What we have in this archive is a deep and unguarded correspondence. She’s not putting on a persona.”
Lee’s biographer Charles J. Shields added that “they’re precious, because she published so little. The downside is that it may break the seal on a lot of questions she doesn’t want answered. It’s going to cheapen her legacy if personal letters keep popping up all the time.”
Michael Morrison, the writer’s publisher and president of HarperCollins, said Lee would disapprove of the letters going on sale. “I doubt that she would be very happy to hear that the letters are being sold,” he told the New Yorker.
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