tv After Words CSPAN February 19, 2016 8:00pm-8:59pm EST
>> c-span washington journal live every day with news on issues that impact you. coming up tomorrow morning we will discus the national governor's association taking place this weekend in washington. governor harry herbert of utah, be sure to watch c-span washington journal beginning 7:00 eastern tomorrow. >> coming up on book tv sean shield on the life of harper lee. later election of 1896 and resident today. .. while.
you come across this non-descript town. court house. scare -- square. it is the center of this summer's most famous book, "go set a watchman." it is the home of harper lee. tell us what you find there. >> guest: you find a little landlocked town in the back town of alabama. it hasn't changed much from "to
kill a mockingbird." watch out for the arm difficuad. there was a time when they were going to tear down the court house because they built a 1960 one and thought they didn't need the old one. now it is restored and like a church. it is an shine to american literary culture. that is probably the best thing about that town. there is still no museum. there is still no reconstructed home of capote or where his home was. it is just -- >>
>> host: it is just a square. there is a plaque out front, then a yard, and it is next to the house where the walk-in dairy is. >> guest: right. and the rock stone walls separating the properties that truman turned cart wholes on is still there. it is perfectly preserved and it it is extremely night. macomb still is scuffy around the corners. >> they are doing opponents on
the square and monroe has none of that atmosphere. harper lee has not been eager to cooperate in "to kill a mockingbird" or her personal history. some of the events in the past years have been threatening to sue the historical society there. she is not anxious to be back in the lime right which raises the question of why now. >> let's jump ahead to "watchman" because it is the book when she went left home to write this is the one she wrote first. "go set a watchman." "to kill a mockingbird" is involved in the editing process . it is in the center of the
controversial. and her sister, a long time, caretaker becomes ill and there is a story of how this manuscript is found. >> guest: i have been telling people there is a second novel out there and if it were to be published it would be after her death. here comes a book during her lifetime. this is like attending your own funeral. >> guest: the creation story the attorney tells is fabulous in the literal sense she was going through some things, sounds like old papers perhaps a safe deposit book, and here comes the manuscript that said "go set a watchman." alice said it was stolen and was asked what happened to the manuscript or the novel they
were working on. her sister said we had a break and it was stolen. someone made off with a ream of paper. no, that was deposited in the law offices of what were at one time both barnet and lee. it has been there all this time. and now that alice lee is gone the fingertips skeleton key has been found. >> host: what happened do you thing this was, nel, always wanted it published and when alice wasn't in charge she presented and said let's go it to people. what do you think happened there? >> guest: there has always been, as typical in most families, a sibling competition there. alice was a conservative woman and 17 years older than her younger sister.
as a result, she saw herself as surrogate parent. mel was extroverted and bohemian in her life. and alice was the buffer between her younger sister and the world that hungered to know more about her. i have to say there is a certain mount of joy in publishing the book alice would never let her publish. >> host: why don't you think she would not let her publish it? >> guest: the first reason could be it is the first effort by a young novelist and has such earmarks. they assured us they have not edited this book at all. >> host: which is fascinating to
me. nel is in new york, she is a young writer working at an airline agency and living in a cold water flat. a friendly family of a slightly older couple gave her money to write for a year and she turns in 50-70 pages every week to her editor. "go set a watchman" was the original title. when they saw it, they didn't make an offer on it. >> guest: apparently not. no. no. at one time she told people she was working on a project called atticus. any endeavor whenever you are writing, whether it is a working title or a different take, i believe "to kill a mockingbird"
went through three versions. you get a combination of the two here filling us in on things. >> host: i will ready in a second you can see see the editing process. the first thing you turned in was the adult scout looking back. she is come back home. it is -- it was set in conte contempory time and there is a civil rights issue going on. she tells the story looking back. >> guest: she takes the train home and she is back home in the south again. she remanences with her father who is elderly now about those days. >> host: "go set a watchman" comes from a scene in "to kill a mockingbird" right is atticus
outside of the court house. the editing process was extensive and took more than a year. >> guest: more than two. >> host: what emerged is the story everybody knows. her editor told her the best voice was childhood scout. it has the nice trick of sort of like "mash" was about the korean war was but was talking about the vietnam war. this was talking about the racial turmoil in the south in the 1950's. >> guest: that was the editing process. you can see the voices and the third persons. it is in first. this is from "to kill a mockingbird." this is nine year old scout.
it was a tired old town when i knew it. in rainy weather, the streets turned to slop, grass grew on the court house and the court house slagged in the square. a black dog suffered on a sunny day, and flies in the sweltering shade at the live oaks on the square. that is the adult jane louis. >> guest: she is looking back. this is originally from the "go set a watchman" manuscript. they didn't catch that in the editing. >> guest: whether they caught it or it serves a purpose is a coin toss. if you tell the story from the advantage point of a nine year old girl there is a lot she can not see. nine year olds go to bed at nine o'clock and will not hear the
conversations. but if you can take an adult looking back they add wisdom, hindsight, and reasurance that all will be well because these children get put into a dangerous circumstances with the mob and running through backyards at night and trying to make boo come out and someone fires a shotgun over their head. with jean louis coming back to reassure gives us a sense this is going to be okay. >> host: it is like an adult r naration to a film. >> guest: i talk to wane greenhall who is very close to harper lee. he is gone now but grew up in that area. and he said he believed from
what she told him was "to kill a mockingbird" was cobbled together from an earlier manuscript and free-standing short stories set in that time that made good chapters on their own. a typical one is the story about how jim lost his temper and broke all of the hidranges in front of the house. when atticus found out about it he said do what she wants and she wanted to be read to. he doesn't know she is coming off an addiction to morphine and he reads to her and she passes. it is pulled out in the film. >> host: we are back it the modern day and this manuscript we are discussing is sitting in a safe deposit box.
politely i don't know if i believe this quote of harper lee saying she is happy it was published. she had a difficult time after "to kill a mockingbird" came out. she wanted to publish another book. she worked hard. and there are letters from capote saying no one has seen her. she is locked up writing. it seems incredible to me here is "go set a watchman," a ready made sequel to one of the most successful books in the american half century, and it dawns on nobody to present it or publish it. there is no record, as we discussed earlier, any evidence of an editor looking at this even a decade later. >> guest: and her agent, venture of teasing note, a kier after
the publication of "to kill a mockingbird" it was said "to kill a mockingbird" would like to have a brother or sister. anxiously awaiting, your friend. well the little brother and sister was available wasn't it? >> host: you would certainly think the idea was there particularly if nel was struggling as she clearly was. let's see what we can do with the first thing you turned in. there is nothing out there. did you ever hear of anybody or any evidence they worked on that manuscript after "to kill a mockingbird" came out? >> guest: no. there is something free floating out there called "the long goodbye" but that could be had working title of something.
i don't know what that is. all i know is there was a large manuscript of "go set a watchman" and "to kill a mockingbird." there was an attempt for a non-fiction book in the 1980s. she hid away at her sister's louis'house and worked with a reverend who was the beneficiary of insurance policies and those people turned up dead. >> host: bad congregation. >> guest: they got fed up with the guy. at the sixth funeral for one of the victims someone in chicago stood up and shot him dead.
first time i heard of 300 witnesses and no one saw anything. she worked on that and kept the files. the attorney who lent her the files kept asking him. the man passed away without the files being returned. there was ever evidence she was trying and trying and trying and understand her support system fell away. her team fell away. truman floated out to sea on drugs and alcohol and became an undependable friend. tay holfe was in her 60's when she helped her with "to kill a mockingbird" and retired from the business. and brown had other fish to fry so to speak. he was a broadway lyricist and had a family. by the mid-1970s the bloom is
off the rose and it is make it or break it time. >> host: she was financially stable. >> guest: yes. >> host: i was surprised when i saw her house. it is a one-story brick rancher. you are going down the street and looking for harper lee's house and you pass it it. it is very simple. she has this simple straightforward life. it is not necessarily true she is a recluse. most of the time she was living in new york. >> guest: she said i want to be the jane austin of the south. meaning she wanted to write about a region and the people in that region. in her own life she kept close to people she group, went to church with and could say hello
on the street. in new york her circle was small. friends wrote her from alabama and they wrote her we are coming up and would like to meet some authors and she said so would i. she loved architecture and was a hobby on pointing out when things were made. she was a baseball fan and had a friend from the new yorker she would pick up for lunch and they would go to ball games together. when something invited her to midtown or manhattan she said i never come down there. >> host: she is never living high on the hog. >> guest: she was never about the money. this book, "to kill a mockingbird," is a tribute to her father. this is about a great man in a
small town and what is a more powerful theme than the one where atticus loses the case and as he is paking up his briefcase and walking out everyone in the gallery stands up and the minister turns to scout and says stand up, scout, your father is coming. >> host: he is the all-time best southern dad. that is the dad everybody really, really wants. >> guest: he has been voted by movie goers the number one hero. you can have our indiana jones and all that. they like a moral giant. >> host: dad wasn't quite atticus. >> guest: no, but had his ins
instincts. when you go down to try to meet harper lee -- it looks like a little town from the town in mississippi i group in. everything is the same until you mention two words: harper lee. is that your experience when you go and everything changes? >> guest: normally the first question is you are not from around here, are you? and i had several strikes against me. i was an out of towner, a yankee and a snoop. >> host: go away. who needs you. we have seen your kind before. >> guest: but there is this remarkable thing when you go down the there word goes out everywhere. the minute you ask one person by the time you get to the second person everybody in town knows you are here and there is an agreement on if anybody is going
it talk to you. >> guest: there was another lady i was talking to and she said it is mixed up like peanut butter. i was talking to one gentlemen and another gentlemen walked up and it was almost pre-arranged. i was introduced this man and he was a judge and he said let's go back to my chambers and he grilled me on what i was supposed to find. >> host: was he appointed by anyone to have that position or just asserting himself as i am the unofficial gatekeeper here? >> guest: exactly. a gatekeeper. they have official docents and there are enforcers. >> host: there is the yard dogs that go after you. >> guest: bbc went around with a
dosent a couple years ago and was delighted with everything -- docents -- and after they were gone this fellow said to the bbc crew that was harper lee just to pull one over on them. there is two interesting points about her relationship to the town. >> host: there is the second book and whether she likes monroeville that much. >> guest: or if they like her. >> host: everyone has his opinion of it being a love letter to a small town. it is a love letter to her dad but if you notice in the book virtually no adult, other than atticu atticus and the sheriff at the end, are nice people.
>> guest: it is a town full of foulable human beings. the church people are helping people in africa but on the other side of the tracks people need help. a man has to pretend he is a drunk and drinks from a paper bag because who else would marry a black woman. it is funny and sad. it is very bitter sweet. >> host: so she writes this thing to the town and it becomes a huge success and it seems like to me from the reporting, she who didn't like the town. she went to new york and pretty much stayed there except to can home and visit family and friends. she said this is a horrible place and i got out of it. and the town has this thing where she is supposed to like them and they are supposed to
like her. i don't think she cared for the town much and was glad to be gone. >> guest: i need come to back do an earlier point. harper lee doesn't just critique the white people in town. she made it clear that prejudice and defensiveness and fear runs in human blood. i mean when the person who takes care of the finch kids takes them to her black church a woman plants herself in their way and says what are you doing here? there is a showdown about bringing these children into the church. so there is that kind of suspicion running on all sides. we don't have saints and sinners but we have people affected by the circumstances. getting to new york, harper lee couldn't have written "to kill a mockingbird" unless she went to new york because living in that town she had a limited perspective. when she gets to new york what
does she see? look on the subway car? here is people are accent. here is people with different kind of dress and people that can into harlem to hear jazz. it is a poly glauctown and a diverse environment. it is someone of the first stopping points of anybody coming from that side of the world. she looks back over her shoulder to monroeville and what does she see? a town that is set in its way and come to a comfort zone of never changing things, of thinks just bolting along the way they have always been. it was that new perspective that allowed her to write that book. >> host: i think she would have been happy to stay away from the town. >> guest: it was her sister, alice, who insisted she come back often.
>> host: their mother had been unwell. >> guest: the mother was unwell. mr. lee, shorty after the publication of "to kill a mockingbird" began to decline. alice's argument was, her nak name is bear and i think that is well chosen. but she tired of all of the business connected with family life and harper lee's success. one of her sister came down and showed her some of the burden. >> host: mel seemed happy. her friends said once you are inside the curtain and the inner room she is very nice and pleasant. but outside of that, alabama it seemed to me was always striking to me the affection and reception for the book. alabama loved the book but was n
changed from it. selma is just up the road. all of this stuff that came right after that; the bombing of the birmingham church. it is a state that reveres the lessons in this book but didn't learn from it. >> guest: realize that "to kill a mockingbird" was not taught in monroeville until 1984. >> host: you are making that up. >> guest: no, i talked to the teacher that started it. she had to buy classroom copies. it was a controversial book. >> host: this would be a reason she didn't care for the town. the museum has a lawsuit with a play there. >> guest: it is an amateur production.
it is licensed to be amateur. you will not see it on broadway. >> host: you can see the rese resentime resentimeresen resentment. she said i wrote this story and you are acting like you love it and now you are not sharing it. you can see how that would tick her off. >> guest: yes, good friends said she wanted to characters and story to remain in the past and not appear on lunch boxes or t-shirts or mugs or coffee mugs or key chains or anything like that. she wants the intigrity of the book respected. on the other hand, high school kids painted a mural on the side of a building depicting a theme and i thought it was well done.
she called it graffiti. >> host: there are other stories around town once she likes you she's pleasant but if she doesn't care for you she will not suffer fools gladly. >> guest: no, no. she was at a christmas party and an out of towner came up and said i loved your book and about atticus and she put her drink down and walked off. >> host: and that incident with the museum that came up a few years ago they were selling t-shirts with "to kill a mockingbird" monromonroeville, alabama and they did not have the copyright. >> guest: 25,000 people a year come to monroeville just to walk
the streets. the town benefits. all of the cafes are selling lemonade because of harper lee and "to kill a mockingbird." >> host: you mention the book wasn't in the school until the 1980's. when did it become a tourist attraction? >> guest: i cannot pinpoint it but it happened gradually by increments. and the play helped pull parliament -- people in. they have not made any steps to creating a boyhood home of truman capote or anything. it was only recently the plaque went up saying that truman capote lived here. >> host: it is one och of the most amazing literary friendships. what was the population of the town when they were kids?
>> guest: 7500 or less? 3500? >> host: that sounds right. it is about 5,000 now and i don't think it peaked at any time. it is like my home town. in the civil war the town was founded in 1820 and had about 300 people. half white half black. and you quoted, i think a union soldier who passed through called it the most boring place on earth. by the time she was a kid -- >> guest: it is really the most boring place on earth. >> host: doesn't have paved streets still. that was the 1930's -- >> guest: people who love that lifestyle wouldn't have it any other way. it is only us type a people that go down there and find fault. >> host: it is a very nice little town until you get into
the -- it gets contentious with the book. the south is still uncomforting discussing race including racial injustice. they will fan the confederate flag and then also talk about how they love the book. >> guest: the coming down of the confederate flag is coming out the same summer this book is published. what better time. >> host: i think the supreme court decision on gay marriage and the confederate flag i would be surprised if that conservative bank of the south is willing to accept both in the same summer. all of this comes into this society she is in down there. she is uncomfortable with it.
she comes home more or less after she had a stroke. when was that? >> guest: that was about five or six years ago. my understanding is from one of her friend is she was in her apartment alone having suffered a stroke for about two days. >> host: this was in new york? >> guest: yeah. it was in new york. it happened saturday morning and monday morning friends came by and knocked and managed to get in and found her on the floor, conscious, but she had suffered from a stroke and that was the moment the decision was made you must come home. >> host: it is interesting her friend capote framed the phrase that all southerners come home even if it is in the box. she came home and he didn't. >> guest: truman was an unusual character in that town. >> host: he was. that creates the controversy
about the book. she is diminished intellectually to a degree after the book. >> guest: alice before passing said poor harper, she will find anything to please somebody. that led to the copyright controversial she lost that to an unscrupilous agent. >> host: and alice was managing her affairs and perhaps she wasn't as sharp as she was. >> host: and we had the mockingbird next door and the author was bringing out that book when the lee sisters protested. she pointed out they signed a release and thought they understood they were being interviewed. >> host: this was an extroidinary access she had as we discussed -- extraordinary -- and she all but moved in with
them. >> guest: as a journalist she was highly ethical and got their permission and didn't remember signing it. >> host: i think alice did. nel said i never cooperated with the book and alice was like well and you got the idea they are not on the same page and the sisters were getting older and they lived together at the house where they had lived, we mentioned the house they had lived next door to capote and that is just off the square. then they moved out to a nice neighborhood with this one-story rancher and lived there with their dad until he passed. then it was the two sisters there. neither of them ever married. that is where they stayed. apparently they had a lot of money. like millions.
but lived simply side by side. in the past five or six years it started fracturing and whatever they were both loosing intellectual capacity and there center couldn't hold anymore. >> guest: i saw a sign of it when i was working on "to kill a mockingbird" a portrait of harper lee. i had been at work interviewing people that knew her and i got a letter from alice lee saying i understand you have been at work about a book from my sister and i don't like it. and i thought how could two women who face each other over the table every morning not mentioned someone was out there. she told my agent she would not cooperate with me. that was the understanding from the beginning but apparently her
sister didn't know. >> host: when alice sent you the letter what happened next? >> guest: i would go to the letter accepting a big envelope from someone saying seize and desist. i tried to be discreet, explained my reasons saying i thought it was a story that needed to be told before everyone passed away that could remember it was her papers were not on file and she wasn't a member of boards so there was not much of a trail and i was trying to get it down because "to kill a mockingbird" is the book of the 21st century and the story needs to be told. a lot of people bought that and agreed to talk to me for those reasons. but there were some people who said i am a close friend to ms. lee and i knew you were going to call and i cannot talk to you. i respected that. >> host: did anyone in the family help?
>> guest: you know, yes, alice. when i started sending them things for their family history. their grandfather's application for a civil pension. anything i thought they might like to have for future generati generations. i got a lovely letter back and she said you have been doing your research and then i asked her about her father's politics and going from a strict segregation supporter to go from fighting to the opposite she said her father was a fine man who had his antenna up for change and his attitude was the right solution should be the one we go for. >> host: approaching nel you your attempt was through her agent? >> guest: yes, he turned me away. he said her agent turned me
away. when i was down there one time a friend of hers said we could drive by. she might be out. and i said i don't want the woman to think i am hounding her and this is a small town and people will see -- a stranger was going by slowly watching. so i said just leave it because i was doing fine on my own. >> you didn't do the preverbial hello. >> guest: it is hard to live in america and not leave evidence of where you went to school and who you associated with. it doesn't difficult to find sorority sisters. people who lived on her street in new york. it just took a lot of chew leather. >> host: and delicacy.
you don't want the seize and desist letter because word goes out to ice this guy in that little town you are iced. >> guest: when i was reporting on a story this year there was a number of doors i knocked on and lights were on and nobody came to the door. you would leave cards for people and they would not get back to you. it was an unusual southern town in that regard. usually people will come tell you if they don't want you on their porch. delicate notes on the piano to get people to talk. >> guest: they don't to be known as the unfriendly place. they have the play and people do
come down there. but there could be a lot of dissension between people. she does have extended family in the area through her sister and brother. louis married and had children and her older brother, edwin, had children as well. so the lee family is by no means gone from that part of alabama and maintaining civilian in that small town is critical and they will not betray each other. >> host: and the best social currency to have in that town is i am friends with lee. >> guest: that is true. >> host: there is no higher social circle to sit than that one. that is why i bet you get a lot of people unhappy with the
lawyer, tonya carter, and there is a theory with the change and the lawsuit against the museum, and the book comes out, and there is other contentious things around town and what tonya carter is doing is what her client is asking her to do. what has been removed is the nice buffer of alice who was the pleasant face. when she went out of her way, nel, who is a little flimsy, and what carter is doing is exactly what her client wants to do and nel is tired of a lot of folks in the town and doesn't care if people get upset about it. >> guest: i agree entirely. i think you hit it on the head. i think unfortunately ms. carter is becoming the fall person, the lawyer wanted to do that. but i think she is taking direction from a woman who is
quite up in years, doesn't have to be second-guessed anymore, and you know it may look like an extra perk of being on the map. >> and the comp complicating fa is her mental state. i talked to people that knew her for 30-40 years and in that circle. they said there is a junior college or community college that has a festival. and she never came to it. it is named for her. and she never came to it. came one year, and this person came back by, and saw her at the nursing home and said thanks so much for coming that was great. and nel said what are you talking about? i didn't go to that. so then -- >> guest: good days and bad days. >> host: and seems to reverse a
lifelong opinion about i am not going to publish anymore and there is this somewhat miraculus story about a manuscript found very soon after -- >> guest: it was a few months within alice's death. >> host: there is millions on the table and you have people that have concerns about whether nel understands what is going on. >> guest: apparently there was an independent evaluation of her capacity and she was ruled to be fine. but it does raise issues of elder care and elder law. we have never been, in my memory, in a situation where a second book comes out by someone when he or she is still alive that has this much importance.
usually the estate decides these. >> host: there were a number of hemmingway books published after his death. there are very honest questions asked. and part of from my point of view as a journalist, and you as a biographer, everyone has been close mouthed about this. i have never seen or heard of this. so when this pops out with a story that seems incredible. i would have my skepticism about it. the book is here, i am the attorney, and i stumble across it. i showed to mel and she said
let's publish it. they liked it. no editing. what is your theory on what happened? >> guest: i think we are fortunate to have the book come out and particularly at this time. what wonderful timing. i hope that it is a very fine book. it is going to address things that are still unresolved in america life. do you know there is a private high school that is primarily white in monroeville and an all-black high school? the streets are not paved in gold in that town or anywhere else in america and we have a lot of work to do. what a timely reminder to have this book come out this summer. if it is anything like "to kill a mockingbird" in terms of the voice and sincerity and issues it raises we are all going to be
so fortunate. i, for one, am going to be grateful. i hope viewers give it a buy if it is not "to kill a mockingbird." she would say the reason i don't bring out about book is once you have been to the top of the mountain there is only one way to get down. and just think she won the pulitzer prize with her first novel. so what kind of pressure was on her to put out another book? she did very well. she is taking a risk. and i hope viewers realize she wrote it 60 years ago, a woman in her 20s, fresh living in new york. >> host: for the skepticism i raised and from my theory you have to believe if this was found, someone would be looking
for it. it lee was happy as well to have it published and it is worth millions it seems like you might look for that sort of thing around the house. certainly i would. >> guest: i feel sure it is the original manuscript because i have seen the cover page and it is typed. that kind of thing now -- >> host: you would have to go to some effort. >> guest: find somebody who could still type. >> host: and the back end of happy to blow up my theory but if you are the representing writer and you can make them millions dollars by just, wroun, publishing an earlier work, assets i read, that it is my theory because it is from later in life, that is the tone of the writing which is lovely. >> guest: she is a boring story teller. i talked to someone on the
college paper at the university of alabama with her and she said when i opened up "to kill a mockingbird" i could her her on the other side of the file cabinet telling the story. >> host: if you can bring out that book and earn your client late in life a return to literary stardom, the best-seller lis, earn as much money as the market bears which is quite a bit, that is good representati representation. >> guest: think what a shot in the arm it is for literary readers and publishers. this is going to be on every beach in america. people will talk about it. we get a break from "harry potter" for once. good >> host: how long when you were writing the book did you spend reporting? >> guest: it took four years to do research. she disappeared in 1964.
i have to say a good part of the my biography is oral history and i got it from people that sat next to her in class, grew up down the block from her, or grew up in the town. i had to reconstruct the past from people that lived it. >> host: she gives fun quotes every now and again and everyone presumes she is scout. she would say that i am more boo radly. >> guest: there is a bit of boo there. she doesn't want to come out. but you know what. i have a theory there is a little mayella in her, too. nayella, the girl who wants love, the girl who doesn't have a steady? i think she is an outsider as much as boo. boo is a recluse but mel is trying to participate.
and she was a different cat than most people. she and truman were two different kinds of kids in that little town. someone who knew them well said truman was too soft for the boys and mel was too soft for the girls. they were each other's only friends. >> host: and boo radly, i am pulling the name out of my hat is a real character who really did live down the street which is a gas station now. it was the backyard where he would be is backed up to a school. she describes it exactly the same way in the book. >> guest: that, too, speaks to the universality of the book. there is that person down the block in every neighborhood who will not come out or tells you to get off their lawn or something like that in every town that is an american frankenstein. it is only by extending ourselves we have to learn to
live with them and not oppose them because they have every right to be there, too. like atticus says to the children leave that man alone. >> host: there is the idiot in the book and he was a very real person. he was, i believe, faulkner's first grade teacher's brother who was mentally incapacitated and he had a big fence in the yard to keep in there. she pulls boo from the guy down the street. >> guest: her english teacher in high school was in the book as well. the book is not completely autobiographical. no fiction writer takes it as-is. but when you read "to kill a mockingbird" you are going through a photo album of her
childhood. >> host: harper said i do this. and it seemed like she did the same thing. >> guest: and you mentioned her father is not entirely atticus. >> host: you mentioned there is one incident -- >> guest: someone talked him to go duck hunting. he went out, took a couple shots, said there you go and went to work. in terms of integrity and understanding of children he was atticus finch and out there as editor of the local newspaper. the klan was having a march down the street and he told them to get out of the street and said no one gave them a permit. and when they gave him guff he
said i will write an editorial about it. he was a thoughtful and compassionate man and a leader in his local church. so believe me, the elements of atticus are there. >> host: and they are all buried -- the family plot is right there in town across from the church. everything is close together as you would expect. there is a walking tour you can take and you can do the walk in 15 minutes. >> guest: talk about close. arthur boo, the model for boo, is buried next to his father. >> host: who kept him in the house. and i think author boo died young. >> reporter: he died of tb in his 40s. he would come out at night and sit on the porch or sit in the back. it started out as grounding for an adolescent act of hygiene because he and fellows got into
trouble. but it turned into sort of induced aggrophobia in the sense that if you don't go out for a long time you get the sense people will be too shocked. >> host: that is where we get boo. and there is a plot off the main road where the church is here. there is a spot where they are all together. i find that comforting. there is a spot that i presume is for nel who is just two miles away over on the bypass. >> guest: she has lived in a very scribed world. she is a southern lady. she covers up the magnolias when the frost comes and knows everybody's history. >> host: on the book we are
about to read it is your thought this is what she turned in? >> guest: yes. that "go set a watchman" is the first draft of "to kill a mockingbird." >> host: and that is actually the book she left this very safe little home when she was 23? >> guest: mid-20s. >> host: she wanted to go to new york and was following truman. faulkner was a huge star and tennessee williams and capote blew up with house of flowers and other voices and other rooms. she wanted to be a writer and all of the time in the cold water flat she worked on is "go set a watchman" which we about to read. >> guest: yes, exactly. a lot of southerners were going up to new york.
after the war it was a fantastic place. a girl she new from the university of alabama was married to zeus sims. i don't know if the book would have been published before there war or 15 years later. >> host: there is an incident in the book she got so frustrated with writing it s she actually through it out the window or almost did. >> guest: she told a group of high school kids she was on the third draft of the book and had been working for two and a half years. realize, truman capote is famous. and she had been trying to tell a story for eight or nine years. the third draft, tired of it, sitting at the typewriter and realizes she is stick of this