Family Maid Files Lawsuit Claiming She Is The Main Character in 'The Help'

The Help Book Cover 2011

Ablene Cooper, who works for author Kathryn Stockett's brother, claims the character Aibileen Clark was based on her.

The Help author Kathryn Sockett is being sued by 60-year-old Ablene Cooper for using her name and likeness for one of the two main characters in the best-selling novel without her permission, according to the New York Times.

Like the real Ablene Cooper, The Help’s Abileen Clark is a middle-aged African-American maid who has a grown son that dies just before the birth of her white employer’s first child, has a gold tooth, and is called “Aibee” by the family.

The suit filed in Mississippi state court asks for $75,000 in damages. An interesting twist is that Cooper works for Kathryn Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law. Cooper says the two support her lawsuit.

The movie version starring Emma Stone, Alison Janney, and Bryce Dallas Howard is scheduled for an August 2011 release by DreamWorks via Disney.  The book has spent 97 weeks on the NYT bestseller list.

"The character "Aibileen Clark" in The Help is a fictional character and is not intended to depict Mrs. Cooper," Stockett tells USA Today. I've met Mrs. Cooper only briefly. I used the name "Aibileen" because it resonated with "Constantine," the beloved woman who took care of the book's main character in her youth. As readers of The Help know, my Aibileen is a true heroine: she is intelligent, an author, a devoted servant of the Lord and a good mother."