The tragedy of a stolen mockingbird saddens me. I recently read about Harper Lee.
Most everyone knows that Harper Lee wrote a book called “To Kill a Mockingbird” half a century ago. A Pulitzer Prize winner, the classic has been one most of us have read more than once, and seen the movie.
It was successful fifty years ago, and is still required reading. Royalties for books sold in 2009 were over a million and a half dollars. Ms. Lee lived modestly over the years. She suffered a stroke a few years ago. Her rights were signed away during a time when she was experiencing a multitude of problems – vision and short-term memory among them.
By the time she recently turned 87, what royalties she received had been depleted. A law suit was filed in May. Charges were that her literary agent, an attorney, took advantage of the ailing Ms. Lee. The benchmark story was written by Mark Seal, and appears in the August issue of Vanity Fair. It is titled, “To Steal a Mockingbird” and explains the legal charges against the agent, as well as updated information.
Over the years numerous writers have been victimized by unscrupulous agents, publishers, and lawyers. Funds have been siphoned away from many of our literary giants. Such a sad commentary that the aging author of a masterpiece was treated unfairly.
Throughout the ages agents and publishers have encouraged and protected the struggling writer, and the treasury of literature. Diligently the agent presents the work to publishers. They try to find a home for a manuscript. Publishers produce books, and are champions of the writer. They work tirelessly to make the best possible product for the reader.
Mostly, both agent and publisher make herculean efforts on behalf of the continuation of fine literature.
I commend honorable, ethical agents and publisher – and thank them. They are often the unsung and under-appreciated heroes. They understand trust is a very elusive quality, and when in place, there is an eloquence between two people who love the written word.
I think I’ll reread Ms. Lee’s gift. And be thankful for those honorable folks in the field of publishing. These are people we trust to tend our words.
Please check out my romantic fiction, Appointment with a Smile, the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the Romance Category, by Kieran York. A new book is scheduled for release in the summer of 2013, titled, Careful Flowers. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order books and Kindle e-books available through Amazon.