The violent racism of the American South drove Wayne Flynt away from his home state of Alabama, but the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's classic novel about courage, community and equality, inspired him to return in the early 1960s and craft a career documenting and teaching Alabama history. His writing resonated with many Alabamians, in particular three sisters: Louise, Alice, and Nelle Harper Lee. Beginning with their first meeting in 1983, a mutual respect and affection for the state's history and literature matured into a deep friendship between two families who can trace their roots there back more than five generations. Flynt and Nelle Harper Lee began writing to one other while she was living in New York - heartfelt, insightful and humorous letters in which they swapped stories, information and opinions on topics both personal and professional: their families, books, Alabama history and social values, health concerns, and even their fears and accomplishments. Though their earliest missives began formally - "Dear Dr Flynt" - as the years passed and their mutual admiration grew, their exchanges became more intimate and emotional, opening with "Dear Friend" and closing with "I love you, Nelle." Through their enduring correspondence, the Lees and the Flynts became completely immersed in each other's lives. Beautifully written, intelligent and telling, this remarkable compendium of their letters - a correspondence that lasted for a quarter century, from 1992 until Harper Lee's death in February 2016 - offers an incisive and compelling look into the mind, heart and work of one of the most beloved authors in modern literary history.
Wayne Flynt is a Distinguished University Professor of History at Auburn University and author or co-author of eleven books. He has been recognised with numerous awards and honours, including the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing, the James F. Sulzby Book Award (twice) and the Alabama Library Association Award for non-fiction (twice).