By: Debra Patterson

“You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee, famously reclusive and an extraordinary ‘iconic’ writer,  died Friday. She was 89 years old.

The Pulitzer-prize winner’s family said, “The family of Nelle Harper Lee, of Monroeville, Alabama, announced today, with great sadness, that Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing. The family is in mourning and there will be a private funeral service in the upcoming days, as she had requested.”

Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” told the story of racial inequality in a small Southern town. Lee based the story off elements of her childhood in Monroeville.

The book instantly became a success and beloved by many. Many referenced ‘Mockingbird’ as a classic modern literature that brought real issues of racism to the frontline. Her masterpiece graced the pages of many high-school literature textbooks.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and is ranked the top selling novel in the history of literature in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The novel sold 30 Million. Lee also received the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her outstanding contribution to literature.

“The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness,” Michael Morrison, President and publisher of HarperCollins said. “She lived her life the way she wanted to- in private- surrounded by books and the people who loved her. I will always cherish the time I spent with her.”

Lee’s agent, Andrew Nurnberg, also released a statement.

“Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege. When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history. We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.”

The ‘immortal’ writer’s funeral arrangements took place on Saturday with few dozens of Lee’s closest friends and family in attendance.

She was buried in the cemetery adjacent to where her parents, A.C. Lee and Frances Finch Lee, and sister, Alice Lee, are buried.

The world of American Literature will forever remember the brilliant Harper Lee. May you live through the pages of your timeless pieces.

Our deepest condolences go out to Lee’s family, friends and fans.