May 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Harper Lee Sues Former Agent

Harper Lee, the notoriously reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird, made headlines this week when she filed for suit in a Manhattan court alleging that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's longtime agent Eugene Winick, duped Lee into signing over the copyright to her famous novel.  Lee claims that while she was living in an assisted living facility in the aftermath of a 2007 stroke, Pinkus convinced her to sign over the copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird.  Lee has no memory of the event and her lawyer states that Pinkus knowingly took advantage of Lee's condition as an elderly woman with failing eyesight.

After Winick fell ill several years earlier, Pinkus began to absorb some of Winick's clients into his own agency, including Lee.  Lee alleges that Pinkus arranged for the copyright transfer in order to ensure himself a longterm interest in the continual income generated from sales of To Kill a Mockingbird.  While the transfer took place in 2007, the copyright has recently been restored to Lee. Although Lee has since fired Pinkus as her agent, he is apparently still receiving payment from the sales of Lee's novel.

Pinkus has thus far declined to comment on the suit.

Lee's classic novel was published in 1960 and has sold over 30 million copies around the world.  She still lives in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama, where she has resided with her sister for most of her life.  Lee is currently 87 years old. 

First edition, first printings of To Kill a Mockingbird start in the five figure range.

[Image of Harper Lee receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Wikipedia]