Harper Lee Net Worth: Earnings, Career & Lifestyle

Harper Lee
Harper Lee (Source: AL.com)

An American novelist, Nelle Harper Lee’s net worth was a staggering $35 million at the time of her death.

She is best known for her 1960 novel titled To Kill a Mockingbird.

The novel was super successful, and it garnered her tons of accolades, including the 1961 Pulitzer Prize.

Nonetheless, given the immense success and impact of her award-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, many bibliophiles have found themselves asking, “Why didn’t Lee publish more of her works?”

Harper Lee
Harper Lee (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Despite being one of the well-received writers, she has only two published books.

Astounded?

According to some of her rare statements, Harper suggested that she did not publish her other works because she felt overwhelmed by the success of To Kill a Mockingbird which has become a classic of modern American literature.

Harper Lee | Quick facts

Before going right into the astonishing details about Jennifer Garner, let’s look at her details.

Birth Name Nelle Harper Lee
Known As Harper Lee
Nickname Nellie
Birth Date April 28, 1926
Birth Place Monroeville, Alabama, United States
Death Place Monroeville, Alabama, United States
Age When Died 89 Years Old
Nationality American
Ethnicity White American
Religion Methodist
Gender Female
Sexuality Straight
Zodiac Sign Taurus
Father’s Name Amasa Coleman Lee
Mother’s Name Frances Cunningham Finch
Siblings Edwin Lee (1920–1951), Alice Finch Lee (1911–2014), Louise Lee Conner (1916–2009)
Marital Status Unmarried
Weight 55 kg/121 lbs.
Height 5’4″/165 cm/1.65 m
Hair Color Originally Platinum Blonde, Grey (Later)
Eye Color Dark Brown
Education Monroe County High School, University of Alabama School of Law, Huntingdon College, University of Oxford
Profession Novelist, Musician, Screenwriter, prosaist
First Book The Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
Awards/Nomination  Pulitzer Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom
Net Worth $80 Million
Merchandise To Kill A Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman, Signed Hardcover First Edition Go Set a Watchman 
Last Update October 2022

Harper Lee | Net Worth & Income

An American novelist Harper Lee’s net worth was a massive $35 million at the time of her death.

Harper Lee had garnered such a massive fortune through her enormously successful career as a writer.

Her award-winning novel TKAM was later made into a film starring Gregory Peck.

The book dealt with the issues of racism that Harper observed as a child in her hometown Alabama.

Published in 1960, Lee’s first novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” became an immediate bestseller.

To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill A Mockingbird (Source: Wikipedia)

Even after more than six decades, the book still remains a bestseller, with more than an astonishing 40 million copies in print.

Similarly, the book has been reprinted in 40 different languages worldwide and sells approximately 1 million copies per year even today.

According to the legal papers filed by Harper Lee as part of her lawsuit against book agents, it was revealed that Lee earned around $3.2 million per year in royalties from her book.

That’s around $8,700 per day, all from something she wrote more than six decades ago.

Aside from that, Harper Lee also earned a massive amount of money in royalties from her second book, Go Set A Watchman”, a sequel to Mockingbird.

Net Worth of Harper Lee in Different Currencies

Harper Lee had earned a massive fortune of $35 million, but how much was it worth in other currencies?

Currency Net Worth
Euro €32.40 Million
Pound Sterling £27.25 Million
Australian Dollar A$48.34 Million
Canadian Dollar C$44.57 Million
Indian Rupee ₹2,676,642,500
BitCoin ฿877.37

Harper Lee | Houses

Harper Lee split her time between New York City and her hometown of Monroeville.

Nonetheless, she mostly spent her time in her New York City apartment.

She moved into the place in the late 1960s but had not occupied the place since 2007 after suffering a stroke that left her with hearing and eye problems.

However, up until her death in 2007, she was up to date on her rent.

In the past, she paid an unusually low rent of $1,000 per month. She had recently renewed the lease for two more years.

Before this one, she lived on East 82nd Street. The demolition of the building led her to move to her new apartment.

Furthermore, not much is known about her car, but most of the time, she was chauffeured around in a black sedan.

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Harper Lee | Lifestyle & Death

Lifestyle

At the time of her death Harper Lee’s net worth was a massive $35 million.

Harper Lee lived a modest lifestyle.

She lived at 433 East 82nd Street in Manhattan for more than 40 years, near her childhood friend Truman Capote.

However, in 1978 Lee returned to Alabama with her sister’s encouragement.

She began a novel about a serial murderer in Alabama and the trial of his killer in Alexander City under the title The Reverend.

Nonetheless, she put it aside as she was not satisfied.

In 1983, she attended Alabama History and Heritage Festival and also presented the essay “Romance and High Adventure.”

Harper Lee
Harper Lee Smoking A Cigarette (Source: Biography (Bio.))

Lee really loved her father. However, after his health worsened and he died in Alabama on April 15, 1062, Lee decided to spend more time in New York City as she mourned.

After moving to New York, Lee became quieter, remained anonymous, and chose to live a low-key lifestyle.

Moreover, after a while, Harper Lee preferred to visit her friends at their homes and also made surprise appearances at libraries or gatherings, particularly in Monroeville.

She was appointed to the National Council of the Arts in January 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Death

One of the best-selling novelists died in her sleep at the age of 89 on the morning of February 19, 2016.

She lived in her hometown Monroeville, Alabama, before her death.

Her funeral was held in Monroeville in First United Methodist Church on February 20, 2016.

Lee's Tombstone
Nelle Harper Lee’s Tombstone Alabama (Source: Dispatches from the LP-OP)

Similarly, the eulogy was read by Wayne Flynt, and some of her close friends and family members were among the attendees.

Author Harper Lee was quietly buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Monroeville, Alabama.

Harper Lee’s net worth was a staggering $35 million at the time of her death.

Harper Lee | Films & Later Years

Films

Harper’s book To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted to the screenplay by Horton Foote and released on December 25, 1962.

The film went on to perform exceptionally well both critically and commercially.

The lead of the film Gregory Peck won an Oscar for Best Actor in the 1962 Academy Award.

Similarly, it grossed $13.1 million or $127 million in today’s money if adjusted for inflation at the box office.

Harper also served as a producer in the film and was not credited for it.

Later Years

In March 2005, Harper Lee went to Philadelphia to accept the inaugural ATTY Award for positive depictions of attorneys in arts.

Likewise, Lee traveled from Monroeville to LA by train at the request of Gregory Peck’s missus to receive the LA Public Library Literary Award in 2005.

in Later Years
Harper Lee in Later Years (Source: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Similarly, she went to her alma mater, the University of Alabama, to attend luncheons for students who have written essays on her work.

Lee was also honored with an honorary degree by the University of Notre Dame on May 20, 2006. At the graduation ceremony, the seniors saluted her with copies of her book TKAM.

Harper Lee’s net worth was an astonishing $35 million at the time of her death.

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Harper Lee | Career

Nelle was born in Monroeville, Alabama, and developed an interest in literature while attending high school.

Following her high school graduation, she went to all-women’s Huntingdon College. After a brief time in college, she transferred to the University of Alabama.

Nonetheless, she did not fully graduate from the university.

Following that, Lee moved to New York City in 1949 to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.

However, the initial years were not easy for her as she struggled financially and worked as a ticket agent for British Overseas Air Corp and Eastern Airlines.

While she was in the city, she got the chance to reunite with an old friend Truman Capote, who was a rising star in literature at the time.

Likewise, she befriended lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife, Joy, a Broadway composer.

They became really close, and Lee ultimately moved in with Michael Martin Brown and his wife, Joy.

Unknown Facts About Harper Lee

  • Harper’s grandmother’s name was Ellen which became her first name spelled backward, Nelle. Tricky aye?
  • Lee initially pursued a career in law while at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949.
  • Needless to say that Harper’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird has been voted the Best of The Century.
  • Even though Lee denied To Kill A Mockingbird to be an autobiography, there are many similarities between Lee and the fictional character Scout Finch.
  • In 2007, Harper Lee was awarded the Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush.

FAQs

Why is Harper Lee so important?

Lee wrote something that became who’s who in the literary world. Her book To Kill A Mocking Bird is a powerful depiction of prejudice and racism in the American South.

What are some memorable characters created by Harper Lee?

Some of the memorable characters created by Lee include characters Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), Jem (Phillip Alford), and Scout (Mary Badham), all from To Kill A Mockingbird.

What is a professional obstacle Harper Lee faced?

Lee faced several obstacles in her life’s journey, including financial instability, which was the reason she took odd jobs such as ticketing and working at the bookstore in her initial days.

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