When the news broke Friday that the beloved and famously reclusive novelist died at the age of 89, reactions to Harper Lee's death flooded the Internet and showed just how enormous her impact was. Lee, who published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1961, according to Al.com, was reported dead by multiple sources in Monroeville, the town where she grew up and also spent the later portion of her life.
Mockingbird was instantly beloved for its strong characterization, sense of place (the small town in which it was set was clearly based on Monroeville), and its lessons about race and misunderstood outsiders amid the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. The plot follows the main character, 6-year-old Scout Finch, as she spies on a mysterious shut-in, Boo Radley, and watches her father defend a black man against unfounded rape charges in her small Southern town. The novel became an overnight classic and is still taught in most schools, although a long-lost prequel, Go Set a Watchman, published last year cast Scout's father, Atticus Finch, in a new light that many readers found disappointing.
Controversy surrounded Lee in her later years, namely debates over whether her representatives were making important decisions for her, including the decision to release Watchman, and if so, whether those decisions were in her best interest and according to her wishes. But there was no doubt as to how fans felt about Lee, or the impact she had on their lives through literature. That was never more evident than it was Friday, as they tweeted their memories of and thoughts about her timeless work:
A literary giant passed today, but clearly she won't soon be forgotten.