Wednesday, Jun. 03, 2009

Harper Lee

You know you're a recluse when the New York Times runs an article with the headline "Gregarious for a Day." (For the record, the reporter described her as witty and charming.) Since the 1960 publication of her best-selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which has sold more than 10 million copies, the Alabama native has steadfastly, albeit politely, rebuffed interview requests. Though she does show up in public from time to time, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author — a distant relative of the Confederate leader Robert E. Lee — almost always declines to speak. When asked in 2007 to address the audience at the Alabama Academy of Honor, the octogenarian responded simply, "Well, it's better to be silent than be a fool."