Harper Lee, the octogenarian author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has decided to no longer pursue litigation against Samuel Pinkus, her erstwhile agent, whom she accused of trying to steal the copyright of her celebrated coming-of-age tale.
"We have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution," Pinkus's lawyer told the New York Daily News.
Lee had filed a suit — now dropped — against former agent Pinkus and his associates earlier this year. She accused Pinkus of essentially forcing an ailing Lee to transfer the copyright to him while she was in an assisted living facility. Lee, who's 87, was recovering from a stroke in 2007, when the events described in the suit supposedly took place.
The suit claims that the author had "no recollection of having discussed" transferring the copyright to Pinkus. "Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see."
Once Pinkus got the copyright, he is alleged to have "moved the copyright around through various companies he created, making it hard for Lee to track," according to a description of the suit in the News. (Lee won back the copyright in a different legal action last year.)
Carolyn Kellogg at the Los Angeles Times points out how well Mockingbird continues to sell — almost 750,000 copies a year, fifty years after it was published. It was the only novel Lee ever wrote. As such, the battle over its legacy — described at length in this excellent Vanity Fair article — represents what looks to have been a crass attempt to divert proceeds from one of the great creations of American literature.
"All the concerns have been addressed," Pinkus's lawyer told the News. We certainly hope so.
Photo via Associated Press.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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