GARDEN CITY, Kansas – Fans of the Pulitzer Prize winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” may know that Harper Lee is planning to release an unexpected sequel to the famous story later this year, but you may not know the private author has ties to the Sunflower State.
Before she was internationally recognized for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee spent some time in Garden City working on another famous book.
“A picture of Nelle Harper Lee when she came to Garden City in late 1959, early 1960 with Truman Capote,” said Laurie Oshel, Finney County Historical Society, Assistant Director.
Lee and Capote were friends, and she went with him to Kansas to help him research the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, the focus of “In Cold Blood”.
During her time in Garden City, Lee formed relationships with some of the locals here and even kept in touch with them years later.
“From a rural Kansas stand point it’s kind of interesting to be able to say ‘oh she was here’, you know people here knew her and considered her a friend.”
Many Kansas friends that knew her well in the 60’s are now gone.
Duane West, the prosecuting attorney in the Clutter murders, says he wasn’t close with her but remembers her dedication to the story.
“She came here two or three times. She was a very quiet person. She took notes all the time about what was going on,” said West.
Several years later, West and his wife saw a play with Lee and Capote in New York City.
He doesn’t keep in touch with her, but thinks there might be a chance that she thinks of the small city she visited decades ago.
“She doesn’t fly and so when she goes to the west coast she goes by train. That train comes through Garden City, she said she always likes to look out the window when she gets to Holcomb.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” has sold 40 million copies and until now was Lee’s only book.
Her publicist says “Go Set a Watchman” was actually written first and is about the main character, Scout, in her adult life.