Imagine sitting with an esteemed writer on his or her front porch somewhere in the world and swapping life stories. Wayne Flynt had this opportunity with Nelle Harper Lee. In a friendship that blossomed over a dozen years, starting when Lee relocated back to Alabama after having had a stroke, Flynt and his wife, Dartie, became regular visitors at the assisted living facility that was Lee's new home. And there the conversations began. IT began where it always begins with Southern storytellers, with an invitation to "Come in, sit down, and stay a while."
The stories exchanged ranged widely over the topics of Alabama history, Alabama folklore, family genealogy, and American literature, of course. On the way, from beginning to end, there were mant detours: talks about Huntingdon College; the University of Alabama; New York City; the United Kingdom; Garden City, Kansas; and Mobile, Alabama, to name just a few. Wayne and his wife were often joined by Alice Lee, the oldest Lee sister, a living encylopedia on the subject of family genealogy, and middle sister Louise Lee Conner.
The hours spent visiting, in intimate closeness, are still cherished by Wayne Flynt. They yielded revelations large and small, which have been shaped into Afternoons with Harper Lee. Part memoir, part biography, this book offers a unique window into the life and mind and preoccupations of one of America's best-loved writers. Flynt and Harper Lee and her sisters learned a great deal from each other, and though this is not a history book, their shared interest in Alabama and its history made this extraordinary work possible.
Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Wayne Flynt is professor emeritus in the history department at Auburn University. He is the author of fourteen books, and his numerous awards include the Rembert Patrick Award for Florida History, the Lillian Smith Prize for Nonfiction from the Southern Regional Council, the Alabama Library Association Award for nonfiction, the C. Vann Woodward/John Hope Franklin Prize by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Award for Excellence in Writing, and the Alabama Governor's Award for the Arts.