Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library has acquired a collection of personal letters and memorabilia of renowned author Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman,” Emory University announced.
Dating between 1956 and 1961, the letters are from Lee to her close personal friend Harold Caufield, a New York architect, as well as his friends, including Michael and Joy Brown, a couple who financially supported Lee as she worked on “Go Set a Watchman” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
According to Emory, the university acquired the letters from retired California attorney Paul R. Kennerson, who said he approached the university about becoming the permanent home of the archive after speaking with Emory historian Joseph Crespino. Crespino reached out to Kennerson while researching his forthcoming book, “Atticus Finch: The Biography,” which will be released on May 8.
A cultural and political history of Lee’s most famous character, Crespino’s book draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee — who practiced law, served in the Alabama State Legislature and was owner and editor of the Monroe Journal — served as the real-life inspiration for the character Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman.”
“These letters complement the research being done by Joe Crespino so perfectly that I was taken with the fit of it and was highly impressed with other work being done at Emory,” Kennerson said, according to Emory. “I can’t think of a better place to house these materials for future use by researchers and scholars.”