January 24, 2022

Acquisitions: Emory University’s Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library Acquires Letters by Harper Lee

From Emory University:

A collection of personal correspondence and memorabilia of renowned novelist Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman,” has been acquired by Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

The letters, written between 1956 and 1961, are from Lee to New York architect and close personal friend Harold Caufield and his circle of friends, which included Michael and Joy Brown, the couple who financially supported Lee for a year while she drafted “Go Set a Watchman” and began work on what would become “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“This correspondence of Harper Lee offers meaningful revelations into her life and her love of words,” says Rosemary M. Magee, director of the Rose Library. “We find her candid and insightful, modest yet full of life, thankful for the love and support of friends. Along with photographs, an inscribed volume and other related materials, these letters have found a most welcoming home in the Rose Library, where we celebrate literature that has the power to shape our own words and work and to transform lives.”

Emory acquired the letters from retired attorney Paul R. Kennerson of La Jolla, California, who said he approached the university about becoming the permanent home of the archive after having met and talked with Emory historian Joseph Crespino. Crespino reached out to Kennerson while researching his forthcoming book, “Atticus Finch: The Biography,” available May 8, 2018.


Four of the six letters in the collection date from several years before Lee published ”To Kill a Mockingbird,” and two are from the year following publication, by which time the novel had become a best-seller and Pulitzer Prize winner. Also included in the archive is a 35thanniversary edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird” inscribed to Caufield and signed “Nelle Harper,” which she reserved only for inscriptions to close personal friends.

According to Jennifer Meehan, incoming interim director of the Rose Library, the archive, which is still being processed, will be available to the public beginning April 2.

Read the Complete Announcement, View 2 Images

See Also: Harper Lee’s Will, Unsealed, Only Adds More Mystery to Her Life (via NY Times; February 28, 2018

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.