Alabama closes investigation into Harper Lee 'abuse'

Alabama closes investigation into Harper Lee 'abuse'
Alabama officials have closed an investigation into whether 88-year-old "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee (left) was manipulated into the publication of her second novel after she made clear she wants it in print, a state official said.

NEW YORK - An Alabama government department has closed an investigation into whether celebrated novelist Harper Lee was coerced or abused into publishing a long-awaited second book this summer.

A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources confirmed to AFP that the investigation had concluded and a report sent to Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter.

He refused to go into any further details on grounds of confidentiality, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the inquiry concluded that the allegations were "unfounded." More than half a century after the runaway success of her first book, "To Kill a Mockingbird," HarperCollins announced in February that Lee would publish a new novel, "Go Set a Watchman." The announcement set the literary world alight and delighted Lee's millions of fans, but quickly degenerated into rampant speculation about whether the 88-year-old recluse was of sound mind.

Lee wrote "Go Set a Watchman" in the mid-1950s but the manuscript was recently re-discovered by her lawyer.

Deaf and suffering from poor eyesight, Lee has lived since 2007 in a nursing home in Monroeville, Alabama.

In February, Carter released a statement telling fans that Lee was "happy as hell" about the new book.

"Watchman" is already a number one best-seller at online bookstore Amazon, where the 304-page hardback is available for pre-order ahead of its July 14 release.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" won the Pulitzer Price for its tale of racial injustice in the Great Depression-era South.

Published in 1960, it has become standard reading in American classrooms and has been translated into more than 40 languages, as well as adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

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