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A visit to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala.

A visit to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala.

Some 200 miles to the west, signs around Jackson, Miss., proudly direct tourists to the home of Eudora Welty. The house, now a museum, is a national historic landmark, a fitting tribute to one of America's greatest writers. Here in Monroeville, population 6,519, there's no such shrine to Harper Lee. For one thing, she is, unlike Welty, still "alive and kicking," as she put it in a recent statement, albeit in reportedly poor health at the age of 89 in an assisted living facility in town. For another (and also unlike the gregarious Welty), Lee has never been the most accessible of writers. Although hardly a recluse like J.D. Salinger or a phantom like Thomas Pynchon,...

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