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Summary

  1. News and updates for 19 February 2016
  2. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird author, dies at 89

Live Reporting

By Frances Cronin and Neil Smith

All times stated are UK

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  1. The final chapter

    Neil Smith

    Entertainment reporter

    "He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."

    With that poignant last line from To Kill a Mockingbird, we'll close the book on a live page that has been understandably overtaken by the sad news of Harper Lee's death.

    Before we go, though, we'll just mention that Viola Beach, the Warrington band whose members were killed in a car crash last weekend, have entered the UK singles chart at number 11 with their song Swings & Waterslides.

    We'll be back on Monday with another live page full of entertainment, arts and media news. Until then, why not curl up with a good book?

    We know just the one.

  2. Selma director thanks Harper Lee

    Ava DuVernay - director of the Oscar-nominated film Selma, which told the story of Martin Luther King's 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in the state of Alabama - has paid her own tribute to Harper Lee, quoting directly from the author.

    View more on twitter
  3. Harper Lee: Readers' tributes

    A number of readers have written in to pay tribute to the late author. Here are a selection.

    Quote Message: I've read To Kill a Mockingbird again and again until the pages of my old book have been worn away. I can't read a new edition with the same pleasure. When I'm feeling out of sorts and not right with the world, I'll pick up my old copy and read until I'm filled with pleasure and a strong belief that there are people like Atticus Finch in the world and I breathe a sigh of relief. My 13-year-old daughter has just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird and she's fallen in love with it. from Bhavna Bamrah, London
    Bhavna Bamrah, London
    Quote Message: My father, William Gollesch, read this book and gave a copy of it to his children, and I have given a copy to my children and will give a copy to my grandchildren. One of his grandchildren read it to him again while he was in hospice care. Harper Lee was ahead of her time. How blessed we who loved her two books were. from Anne Halme, Sioux Falls
    Anne Halme, Sioux Falls
    Quote Message: I think To Kill a Mockingbird is the greatest novel in English of the post-war period, if not the 20th Century. Through the minds and words of children, the issues of race, prejudice and acceptance are explored. Although the central theme of the racial injustice of the arrest and trial has always been what people have thought of the book, Lee herself said that the book was about Boo Radley and when he could come out and be accepted. I re-read the book regularly every two or three years. from Michael Steed, Lincolnshire
    Michael Steed, Lincolnshire
  4. 'A gift for explaining the world through a child's eye'

    Kendal Weaver, the Associated Press's long-serving, now retired, Alabama news editor, has written a piece about Lee, who was born and raised in the state and used it as the backdrop for her famous novel.

    Quote Message: Lee was cited for her subtle, graceful style and gift for explaining the world through a child's eye, but the secret to the novel's ongoing appeal was also in how many books this single book contained.
    Quote Message: To Kill a Mockingbird was a coming-of-age story, a courtroom thriller, a Southern novel, a period piece, a drama about class, and - of course - a drama of race.

    Read the full article.

  5. Naughtie pays tribute to Harper Lee

    James Naughtie

    James Naughtie, the BBC's books editor, has just been speaking to Radio 4's PM programme about Harper Lee.

    Quote Message: To Kill a Mockingbird is told through the eyes and in the words of Scout, the child of Atticus Finch, and therefore it's a book that's very accessible to kids, and that's why schoolchildren have been reading it all these years.
    Quote Message: I think she stands, particularly among American readers, as someone who shone a light into a very dark place. She was writing at a time when people were beginning to lift the lid on everything that had been going on in the South which they'd previously chosen not to understand. But that all changed in the '60s.
    Quote Message: There's no question that Go Set a Watchman didn't read terribly well; Atticus Finch comes out as a rather less likeable figure than he is in To Kill a Mockingbird. But she remains an extraordinary figure. She wrote one extremely powerful, accessible and successful book that will be revered by people for a very long time.
  6. Witherspoon praises Harper Lee's words

    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon, who narrated the audiobook of Go Set a Watchman, has paid tribute to Harper Lee on Instagram.

    Lee's "romantic view of the South", she wrote, "never shielded us from the divisive attitudes running rampant through our beloved society."

    "I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to read and give voice to Harper Lee's brilliant words."

    The Louisiana-born actress has also posted this tribute on Twitter.

    View more on twitter
  7. Harper Lee 'didn't want to be a public figure'

    Harper Lee shunned publicity following the enormous success of To Kill a Mockingbird, speaking to the press very rarely.

    She therefore often appears on lists of literary recluses, alongside the likes of JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon.

    But David Ulin, former book editor at the Los Angeles Times, believes it is wrong to describe Lee as a recluse.

    Lee, Ulin told the BBC, simply didn't want to be a public figure.

    Quote Message: The interesting thing about Lee and her career is that... you know at a certain point she clearly decided she didn't owe anything to anybody but herself. And was content with having the one book out and actually I find that quite admirable.
  8. George W Bush: Lee 'ahead of her time'

    Harper Lee with President George W Bush in 2007

    George W Bush has paid tribute to Lee, "a legendary novelist and lovely lady".

    The former US president said he and his wife Laura were "grateful" for Lee's "matchless contributions to humanity and to the character of our country".

    President Bush awarded the author the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.    

    Here is the full statement.

    George Bush statement on Harper Lee
  9. Harper Lee 'changed how world saw the South'

    Erica Wagner, consulting literary editor at Harper's Bazaar magazine, has given her thoughts on Harper Lee's literary legacy.

    Quote Message: Harper Lee changed how much of America - and the world - saw the South, not once but twice. The legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird was darkened by the publication of Go Set a Watchman; and that was no bad thing.
    Quote Message: Few writers are privileged to create characters which truly seem to leap off the page and live: Lee will always be remembered as one of those.
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, in quotes

    Here are some of the other memorable quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird that Harper Lee's fans have been sharing.

    "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

    "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."

    "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

    "It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived."

    "With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable."

    "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks." 

    "It's not time to worry yet."

  11. Harper Lee 'an extraordinary writer'

    Harper Lee

    Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, has added his voice to the growing list of tributes to Harper Lee, calling her "an extraordinary writer".

    Quote Message: We are honoured to have been Harper Lee's publisher and so saddened to hear of her passing. Readers around the world will always be thankful for her legacy.
  12. 'Nell full of life and mischievous wit' - agent

    Andrew Nurnberg, Harper Lee's London-based agent, has also paid warm tribute to the late writer.

    Quote Message: Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege. When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history.
    Quote Message: We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.
  13. Harper Lee inspired me - Erin Brockovich

    Erin Brockovich, the US lawyer who Julia Roberts played on film in 2000, has added her voice to the tributes being paid to Harper Lee.

  14. Harper Collins president: Lee 'a woman of great joyfulness'

    Michael Morrison, president of Harper Lee's publisher HarperCollins, has paid tribute to the author. 

    Quote Message: The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer, but what many don't know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to - in private - surrounded by books and the people who loved her. I will always cherish the time I spent with her.
  15. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird reviewed

    For a bit of history, here is how the New York Times reviewed To Kill a Mockingbird when it was first published in 1960.

  16. Harper Lee: Mockingbird set for Broadway return

    It was only announced last week that Aaron Sorkin is to adapt Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird for the 2017-2018 Broadway season.

    Another adaptation of Lee's novel was seen at the Open Air theatre in London in 2013, with Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus Finch.

    Matthew Modine, who played Atticus on stage in Hatford, Connecticut in 2009, has tweeted this tribute.

    View more on twitter

    The best-known adaptation, of course, was the Oscar-winning 1962 film version starring Gregory Peck.  

  17. Harper Lee: More than a one-hit wonder

    Harper Lee and Go Set a Watchman books

    For 55 years, Harper Lee was a one-hit wonder. But in February last year, the discovery of another novel - written before To Kill a Mockingbird - was announced. 

    Hailed as the literary sensation of the decade, Go Set a Watchman  was an immediate bestseller when it was released in July.

    But the book had mixed reviews and shocked some fans with the revelation that Atticus Finch had become a bigot. 

    Read more.

  18. Lee 'had planned to write string of books'

    Joy Brown and Will Gompertz

    It was revealed in July that Harper Lee had plans to write a string of novels after To Kill a Mockingbird, according to a letter she wrote before the book was published.  

    In the letter, sent two years before Mockingbird came out in 1960, she listed six ideas that she thought would occupy her for the next 15 years.

    Joy Brown showed BBC arts editor Will Gompertz the letter.

    Read more.