Harper Lee says she didn't OK new book about her

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Harper Lee says she didn't OK new book about her
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05: Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) greets Harper Lee (C), Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' after he presented her with a Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony for the 2007 recipients in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, in local courthouse while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, in her father's law office while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee with her father. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Watching the filming of a scene for the 1962 movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" are producer Alan Pakula and author Harper Lee, whose Pulitzer prize winning novel has been adapted for the screen. A south Alabama town that was the inspiration for the setting in Lee's book is finding itself as the backdrop for a real-life legal case involving allegations of racism at school. (AP Photo)
Get your first look at our cover for Harper Lee’s #GoSetAWatchman. http://t.co/AUp2W1j0lE http://t.co/SG5QBMMYLN
We are thrilled to share the official cover of Harper Lee's #GoSetaWatchman with you all! @GSAWatchmanBook http://t.co/RJlkUuhgQW
Harper Lee wrote me back today to say "Go Away!" Happy UK #WBD2015 #WorldBookDay http://t.co/GozIGKKfGf http://t.co/usnDehHSjs
This photo provided by HarperCollins Publishers shows the cover of "To Kill A Mockingbird." "€œTo Kill a Mockingbird"€ will be made available as an e-book and digital audiobook to fill one of the biggest gaps in the electronic library. Author Harper Lee said in a rare public statement Monday, April 28, 2014, issued through HarperCollins Publishers, that while she still favored "€œdusty"€ books she had signed on for making "Mockingbird"€ available to a "€œnew generation."€ (AP Photo/HarperCollins Publishers)
University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins, left, author Harper Lee, center, and Notre Dame board of trustees president Patrick McCartan look out at the graduates of the class of 2006 as they hold up copies of Harper Lee's book "To Kill a Mockingbird" during commencement ceremonies at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame awarded Lee an honorary degree. (AP Photo/Matt Cashore)
Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visiting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Gregory Peck is shown in scene from the 1962 movie, "To Kill A Mockingbird". (AP Photo)
Sandra Lindley, right and Lydia Kuhn behind listens to a reader at the Krispy Kreme shop Monday, March 6, 2006, in Fresno, Calif. Kuhn and others like her spent the morning reading "To Kill a Mockingbird," as part of The National Endowment for the Arts effort to get American's to read more. The program helped kick off a month's worth of programs meant to take the classic novel where the readers are; doughnut shops, retirement homes, downtown bars, museums and yes, even libraries.(AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)
Top winners of Academy Awards get together after their presentations at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Calif., on April 8, 1963. Left to right: Gregory Peck, best actor for "To Kill a Mockingbird", is kissed by Patty Duke, best supporting actress for "The Miracle Worker", watched by Joan Crawford holding the Oscar awarded to Anne Bancroft for best actress for "The Miracle Worker" and Ed Begley, best supporting actor for "Sweet Bird of Youth". (AP Photo)
In this file photo, Gregory Peck is shown as attorney Atticus Finch, a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape, in a scene from the 1962 movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." The film is among the American Film Institute's best courtroom drama movies. (AP Photo)
394238 02: Shoppers read about a Chicago program involving the 40th anniversary edition of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'To Kill A Mockingbird' September 10, 2001 at a Borders Books and Music store in Chicago. Borders Books and Music in Chicago is working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library in the new citywide reading initiative: 'One Book, One Chicago,' encouraging all Chicagoans to read and discuss the book during the months of September and October. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
A struggle takes place between Jem and Scout Finch (Phillip Alford and Mary Badham, centre) in a 'To Kill A Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Publicity still portrait of American actor Brock Peters in the film 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 1962. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)
Left to right: Estelle Evans (1906 - 1985) as Calpurnia, Phillip Alford as Jem and Mary Badham as Scout, in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actors Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003), as Atticus Finch, and Mary Badham as Scout, in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actors (left to right) Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003) as Atticus Finch, John Megna (1952 - 1995) as Charles Baker 'Dill' Harris, Phillip Alford as Jem Finch, and Mary Badham as Scout Finch in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor Robert Duvall as Arthur 'Boo' Radley in a promotional portrait for 'To Kill a Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003) as Atticus Finch in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
The lawyer Atticus Finch as interpreted by Gregory Peck, seated on the sofa together with his two children. Burbank, California, 1962. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Rosemary Murphy sitting with Mary Badham and other children in a scene from the film 'To Kill A Mockingbird', 1962. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2007, file photo, author Harper Lee smiles during a ceremony honoring the four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor at the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be made available as an e-book and digital audiobook in July 2014, filling one of the biggest gaps in the electronic library. Author Harper Lee said in a rare public statement Monday, April 28, 2014, issued through HarperCollins Publishers, that while she still favored “dusty” books she had signed on for making “Mockingbird” available to a “new generation.” (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)
Harper Lee, the 80-year-old Pulitzer Prize winning author of "To Kill A Mockingbird," shares a laugh with Gov. Bob Riley at the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007, in Montgomery, Ala. Lee received a resolution commending her contribution to public education in the state. (AP Photo/Jamie Martin)
Harper Lee, 36, who gained fame with her first novel, "To kill a Mockingbird," says she's running just as scared as before her success. Her book, which came out in 1960, has since sold six million copies, won a Pulitzer prize and been made into a film recently nominated for an academy award. Harper Lee poses March 14, 1963. (AP Photo)
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CHICAGO (AP) -- The reclusive author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," one of the most acclaimed novels of the 20th century, says she never gave her approval to a new memoir that portrays itself as a rare, intimate look into the lives of the writer and her older sister in small-town Alabama.

"Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood," Harper Lee said in a letter released Monday, just as the new book, "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee" was about to released. The book was written by Marja Mills, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, who moved next door to Lee and her sister, Alice, in 2004 and remained there for 18 months.

Mills responded in a statement, saying that Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, and her sister "were aware I was writing this book and my friendship with both of them continued during and after my time in Monroeville. The stories they shared with me that I recount in the book speak for themselves,"

Mills' book describes a friendship that blossomed after she first traveled to Alabama in 2001 to write about Lee and Monroeville for the Tribune when "To Kill a Mockingbird" was selected to launch Chicago's One Book, One Chicago program. She describes her surprise when Alice invited her in to chat and her shock when Lee called her later and visited her the next day at her motel. Lee did not participate in the newspaper story.

"We had a great rapport from the start," Mills said in an interview before Lee's letter was made public. "I didn't feel entitled to know more than they wanted to tell me."

In the book, Mills describes how she became part of the Lee sisters' social circle, having coffee regularly with the author at McDonald's, sharing catfish suppers, feeding the ducks and taking long country drives. In the interview, Mills says she had built a trust with the two women from her newspaper story and both Lee, then 74, and Alice, 89, were eager to have their family stories preserved.

"To Kill a Mockingbird," published in 1960, is the story of Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer, his two young children and the fight against racial injustice in Depression-era Alabama. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel became a movie starring Gregory Peck, who received an Academy Award.

In her memoir, Mills' quotes Alice Lee on one of the lingering mysteries about her sister: why she never wrote another book.

"When you have hit the pinnacle," Alice Lee said, "how would you feel about writing more?"

Lee's letter is not the first time she has spoken out against "The Mockingbird Next Door." The intensely private author, now 88, issued a statement in 2011 after Penguin Press announced it had acquired the book, saying she had not "willingly participated in any book written or to be written by Marja Mills."

In a statement issued Tuesday, Penguin said it was proud to publish the book.

In her July 14 letter, Lee said she normally wouldn't respond to questions about books about her life but felt compelled to do so. She said Mills had befriended her sister and "it did not take long to discover Marja's true mission; another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised."

She said she immediately cut off contact with Mills and left town when she was there. Until her stroke in 2007, Lee divided her time between New York and Monroeville.

She also said Mills has a 2011 statement signed by her sister, "claiming I had cooperated with the book," noting Alice Lee would have been 100 at the time.

In her response, Mills said Alice Lee was still practicing law at age 100 and declared that letter "makes clear that Nelle Harper Lee and Alice gave me their blessing."

Mills also cited one sentence from Alice Lee's letter: "Poor Nelle Harper can't see and can't hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence. Now she has no memory of the incident."

The book controversy comes a month after a federal judge ended the on-again, off-again lawsuit filed by Lee against a museum in her hometown.

U.S. District Judge William H. Steele of Mobile dismissed the case in a one-sentence order after lawyers for Lee and the Monroe County Heritage Museum filed a joint motion seeking to end the litigation. Lee had accused the museum of taking advantage of her work by selling souvenirs and using the title of her book on its website address. The museum changed its website's name

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