Harper Lee: Authorities Investigating Allegations of Elder Abuse (Report)

Getty Images

At least one anonymous complaint alleges the 88-year-old author is too infirm to assent to the publication of her upcoming novel.

Harper Lee was interviewed by Alabama investigators last month over allegations she was manipulated into publishing her next book against her will, The New York Times reports.

According to the report, the investigators were responding to at least one complaint of potential elder abuse regarding the publication of the 88-year-old author's second book, Go Set a Watchman, a follow-up to her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Watchman is due out later this year.

One person who said he had filed an anonymous complaint told the Times he is a doctor who has known Lee for years. He said he had called Alabama’s adult protective services hotline and asked the state to investigate whether Lee was too infirm to have fully consented to the publication of Watchman.

It's unclear as yet what will come of the investigation, but a source close to the probe told the Times that Lee "appeared capable of understanding questions" and "provided cogent answers to investigators."

Lee suffered a stroke in 2007 and many close to her believe her lawyer, agent and publisher have taken advantage of Lee in her old age, pressuring her to release the book against her will. Lee wrote Watchman more than 50 years ago and never moved to get it published until now.

"One faction," the Times writes, "argues that Ms. Lee’s mental health is too shaky for her to have knowingly authorized the new book, while the other just as vigorously affirms her competence."

Lee's publisher, lawyer and literary agent claim the author has enthusiastically endorsed the publication.

A spokeswoman for Lee's publisher HarperCollins said the company has yet to be contacted by investigators.

comments powered by Disqus