U.S. political and cultural figures mourned the death of author Harper Lee on Friday, crediting her with helping to promote tolerance and quoting her with admiration in social media and formal statements.
Lee, whose 1960 book “To Kill a Mockingbird” about racism and injustice in the U.S. South is a classic of American literature, died on Friday at age 89 in her home town of Monroeville, Alabama.
“Harper Lee was ahead of her time, and her masterpiece To ‘Kill A Mockingbird’ prodded America to catch up with her,” former President George W. Bush, whose wife Laura Bush is a librarian, said in a statement.
Bush, who awarded Lee a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, said she had been a voice for tolerance.
Author Stephen King (@StephenKing) honored not only Lee’s work but the influence her talent had on another famed author.
“Let’s celebrate the life of Harper Lee, who wrote an American classic and helped her friend Truman Capote write another,” King tweeted Friday.
Let's celebrate the life of Harper Lee, who wrote an American classic and helped her friend Truman Capote write another.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 19, 2016
Harper Lee my 1st favorite author! I always wanted to interview her. She said" honey I already said everything I had to say". #RIPHarperLee— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) February 19, 2016
“Oh no. The great Harper Lee has passed away,” actress Debra Messing said on Twitter. “She changed the world with ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’”
Actor Josh Gad tweeted that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was the first book he remembers reading cover-to-cover. “It propelled me toward my love for lit,” he said.