Playing golf may have inspired Harper Lee write “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Sharon Wong
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Harper Lee
Source: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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Nelle Harper Lee, whose only work To Kill A Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the world’s most beloved novels about social injustice, was 89 when she passed away this Friday in her nursing home in Monroeville, Ala. In her honor, we’ve decided to bring to light a little-known factoid: she was into golf in a huge way. One of the most notoriously reclusive figures in the literary world, she was often on a golf course with her sister Alice during those few instances she was spotted away from home. She once revealed that she did some of her best creative thinking while playing a few holes.

Harper Lee Bush
Source: AP

During a 1980 interview with Time Magazine, Lee exposed her reasons for retreating to a golf course for inspiration. “Well, they’re Southern people and if they know you are working at home they think nothing of walking right in for coffee. But they wouldn’t dream of interrupting you at golf.”

We are lucky to have this tidbit of insight into her creative process, as she rarely ever gave interviews or left home except to play golf. Even when her sister turned a century old, she couldn’t bring herself to attend the slew of public celebrations all over Monroeville. But when the family gathered for a private birthday gathering at the golf club days later, you bet she was there to celebrate a sister she loved in a place which had so long treated as a longtime muse.

Rest in peace, fellow golfer.

Peck Harper
Source: Bettman/Corbis