The literary world lost an icon Friday when "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Nelle Harper Lee, known as Harper Lee, died at her home in Monroeville, Alabama, at 89. Lee's literary legacy is secure, but the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is leaving something else behind: a whole lot of money.
Lee did not publish any books between the release of the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 1960 and its long-awaited follow-up, "Go Set a Watchman," in 2015. She didn't exactly need the money. She was reportedly pulling in more than $3 million annually in royalties as of 2014 from "To Kill A Mockingbird," which is still a beloved staple in classrooms across the U.S. That's more than $9,000 a day. In fact, in early 2015 Celebrity Net Worth, a site that estimates the wealth of the rich and famous, deduced that Lee's net worth was more than $35 million.
Lee became even wealthier in the last year of her life. Lawyer Tonja Carter, who managed Lee's affairs, reportedly found the unpublished manuscript for "Go Set a Watchman," which Lee wrote in the 1950s, and in July 2015 — more than 55 years since "To Kill a Mockingbird" first hit bookshelves — Lee was again a bestselling author. At the time, Forbes estimated that Lee would make in excess of $10 million from sales of the new novel.
Lee was famously private, and details about her finances are few and far between. But it would seem that the author was sitting on a hefty fortune.
What happens to that money now is a matter of speculation. Lee has no living heir, and Carter has managed her affairs for the past few years, increasingly so as the author grew more infirm late in her life, according to the New York Times. There was even controversy over whether Lee was in a lucid enough state of mind to consent to the publication of "Go Set a Watchman" in 2015.
In any case, "Go Set a Watchman" was published and, along with "To Kill a Mockingbird" anchors a sizeable estate that should only grow as news of Lee's death inspires more readers to buy her books.