R.I.P. Harper Lee, author of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Lee's influential book was read by millions around the world.

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, died early this morning at the age of 89, according to her family. 

The novel instantly became one of the biggest books of the last half-century, touching on subjects of race, justice, wealth and growing up in the South. Since its release in 1960, millions of people around the world have read about Scout Finch, her dad Atticus and the events surrounding the trial of Tom Robinson.

Right after its release, people deemed the novel so important it became required reading for students across the country. Because of the acclaim, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

In 1962, Robert Mulligan adapted the novel into an award-winning film starring Gregory Peck. The American Film Institute ranks Atticus Finch as the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.  

To Kill a Mockingbird was the only book the elusive author published until Go Set a Watchman was released last July. 

Lee's family released a statement saying she was in good health up until she died. 

"America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century's most beloved authors," said Lee's nephew Hank Conner. "We will miss her dearly."

Top image: AP Photo/Rob Carr

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