Famed American author Harper Lee has died at the age of 89, according to the mayor’s office in her home town in Alabama and her publisher.
Best known for her book “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Lee shied away from the spotlight for much of her later life.
Publishing house HarperCollins released a statement confirming that she “died peacefully last night,” but gave no further details.
Lee was represented by HarperCollins agent Andrew Nurnberg, who shared memories from his most recent visit with the author, whose first name was Nelle.
“Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege,” Nurnberg said in a statement released by the publishing house.
“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. We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity,” Nurnberg said.
Lee was a native of Monroeville, Alabama and her first book was published in 1960 to immediate fanfare. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the work quickly became a literary and popular favorite.
The book, which addresses racial issues in the South, was assigned widely in schools.
Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2007.
She said for years that she would never write another book, but the manuscript for a second novel “Go Set A Watchman,” was published in 2015.
“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,” HarperCollins president and publisher Michael Morrison said in a statement today.
“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,” he said.