Harper Lee's Mockingbird to go digital

image copyrightAP
image captionThe book celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010

Author Harper Lee has granted permission for her classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird to be issued as an audiobook and e-book.

Lee, who rarely gives interviews, said: "I'm still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. This is Mockingbird for a new generation."

The writer celebrated her 88th birthday on Monday, the same day as the announcement was made.

The e-book and audiobook will be published by HarperCollins on 8 July.

To Kill A Mockingbird was first published on 11 July in 1960 by JB Lippincott and Co, a company which went on to become part of HarperCollins.

It tells the story of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch's battle against racial prejudice as he defends a black man who is wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

Lee's only published novel, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and has sold 30 million copies in English worldwide.

It has also been translated into 40 languages.

The novel was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1962, with Gregory Peck picking up the best actor Academy award for his portrayal of Finch.

image copyrightAP
image captionLee rarely appears or speaks in public

Considered to be a modern classic, it is regularly taught in schools in the UK and the US.

"Every home has a dog-eared copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, and now readers will be able to add this favourite book to their digital libraries," said Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HarperCollins US General Books Group and Canada.

"Although today is Nelle Harper Lee's birthday, she is giving readers around the world the gift of being able to read or listen to this extraordinary story in all formats."

The audiobook will be a downloadable edition of the existing CD, narrated by Oscar-winning actress Sissy Spacek.

HarperCollins said the e-book will feature "extra exclusive content".

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