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John Cowardin Collection on Nelle Harper Lee

 Collection
Identifier: MSS-4208

Content Description

This collection contains letters written from 2004-2008 between author John Cowardin and Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee wrote ten letters in the collection; several are addressed to "the Cowardins" (John and his wife, Beth). The last three letters, in 2009, are from Alice F. Lee, Harper's sister. The correspondence covers subjects such as Cowardin's progress on his first novel, Harper Lee's macular degeneration, and her opinion of author Truman Capote.

The collection also contains a few photographs and other items, including a signed photo of actor Gregory Peck; a Mockingbird reading guide related to "The Big Read"--a program of the National Endowment for the Arts--along with three photographs of actress Mary Badham at the event; and five early editions of Mockingbird once owned by John Cowardin. One of the books is signed by Harper Lee and Mary Badham. Two others are signed by Badham.

Dates

  • 1960-1962, 2004-2009

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Access to and use of materials in this collection require written permission from the Nelle Harper Lee estate. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations.  Patrons may not use cell phone cameras or any other recording devices when accessing any portion of this collection.

University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections staff will not photocopy or digitize materials in this collection without written permission from the Lee estate. For information contact The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections staff at archives@ua.edu.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to and use of materials in this collection require written permission from the Nelle Harper Lee estate. University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections staff will not photocopy or digitize materials in this collection without written permission from the Lee estate. Patrons may not use cell phone cameras or any other recording devices when accessing this collection. For information contact The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections staff at archives@ua.edu.

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections staff at archives@ua.edu with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: https://www.ua.edu/copyright/. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which The University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

John (Jack) Cowardin is an author and former home builder who lives in Florida. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Cowardin received his BA from Oklahoma University. He published his first novel, Ora and the Gem Star, in 2009.

Nelle Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She attended law school at The University of Alabama from 1945–1949, and published her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961. Lee died in Monroeville on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89.

Cowardin first wrote to Lee in 2004 after he acquired a used copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that bore the inscription "To my new found friend [Marnie] – Harper Lee, Sept 8, 1863." He asked if Lee knew anything about the inscription; Lee responded that she did not write it. The two continued to correspond until Lee's eyesight began to fail around 2008.

Extent

0.8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The John Cowardin Collection on Nelle Harper Lee contains letters between Florida author John (Jack) Cowardin and Pulitzer-Prize winning Alabama author Nelle Harper Lee. It also includes supplemental materials related to Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Alabama Libraries acquired the John Cowardin Collection on Nelle Harper Lee in 2014.

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Ryan, 2018.

Creator

Source

Title
Guide to the John Cowardin Collection on Nelle Harper Lee
Status
Completed
Author
Erin Ryan
Date
January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266
205.348.0500