Harper Lee has given fewer than a handful of interviews in the last fifty years, but she granted one recently to a reporter from the Mail on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird.
But she did so with one caveat: No talking about To Kill a Mockingbird. Instead, they exchanged brief pleasantries. “Thank you so much,” said Lee, after the reporter brought her a box of chocolates. And then, “You are most kind. We’re just going to feed the ducks but call me the next time you are here. We have a lot of history here. You will enjoy it.’
And that’s it. The reporter also wandered around Monroeville, Alabama, where Lee lives, and spoke to people who know her–including her older sister Alice, who is 98 and a practicing lawyer.
On the occasion of this rare interview, the Guardian has thrown together a collection of others she has granted over the years. (There are two.) To Kill a Mockingbird celebrates its 50th birthday on July 11. It’s sold more than 40 million copies, which is roughly the number of people there are in Argentina.