Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Harper Lee’s Sister, Alice, Is 100, Still Practices Law, and Remembers Everything

Apr 1, 2012 The Daily Beast

Centenarian Alice Lee is the oldest lawyer still practicing in Alabama. Featured in a documentary about her sister that airs on PBS Monday night, she talked to The Daily Beast about everything from Truman Capote to what it takes to fall asleep at night

On a warm day last September, in a concrete bank building not far from the center of Monroeville, Ala., a party was held in the conference room at the law offices of Barnett, Bugg, Lee & Carter. Thirty people had been invited. Pink punch in punch glasses and coffee cups lined one of the conference tables, platters of food, another. And seated at a table in the corner was the reason for the celebration: the firm's senior partner, the oldest practicing attorney in the state, Alice Finch Lee, was turning 100. Guests included a judge, the head of the Monroeville Chamber of Commerce, and Harry Rankins, who mows her lawn. They lined up to write in a guest book and pay their respects. Miss Alice, as she is known, has a sister 15 years her junior. Nelle Harper Lee is a novelist and known outside the family as Harper Lee.

I was among the guests at Miss Alice’s party having completed the documentary Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (which airs Monday at 10 p.m. on PBS's American Masters). Harper Lee famously stopped granting interviews in 1964. But her older sister agreed, after some persuasion, to talk with me. She said that Nelle Harper “grew up quite the little tomboy” and later became a novelist who “did not think that a writer needed to be recognized in person and it bothered her when she became too familiar.”
Harper Lee dedicated her first and only novel to her older sister and her father, “in consideration of Love & Affection.” Not a recluse but not much for public appearances, she did not attend Miss Alice’s office party. There would be a family-only gathering two days later at the golf club.

Full story at The Daily Beast

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