Lee, Harper: 1926 - 2016

Monroeville - Boo Radley

  • S. Alabama Avenue   S. Alabama Avenue in 1915
    View of South Alabama Avenue. The house of the mysterious neighbor can be found at the bottom of the picture, where all the trees are seen.
    Ms. Lee's home is the second house from the bottom.
      South Alabama Avenue in about 1915. The Lee's house was about where the car is.
    Boo Radley could have been modeled after a real person in Monroeville. One of Harper Lee's childhood friends, Jennings Faulk Carter, remembers:
    "But Sonny was something else entirely. He was a tall, thin young man with a face so pale he looked almost ghostly, leading some of our friends to develop a legend about him: Sonny's dangerous and if he ever gets out of his yard, he'll kill you with a butcher knife.
    There was nothing too wrong with Sonny except that he was kept at home and was enormously shy. No one had ever seen him leave his yard. Nelle (Harper Lee), who wasn't afraid of anything, had dared to be friendly with Sonny. Once she and I stood at the edge of his yard and she talked to him while he sat on the front porch. Nothing bad happened. Sonny didn't have a murderous look in his eye, and he didn't try to attack anybody."
  • From: Marianne M. Moates: Truman Capote's Southern Years, New York,1989
    Order the book from Amazon (UK, USA)
  • Radley House
    A.B. Blass, who delivered newspapers in Monroeville, remembers,"The house of the mysterious neighbor was something like this one. I delivered papers on this street. I would go ... where the dark, shuttered house was. All of us my age were afraid of it.
    "Well, I got up enough nerve to get up real close to the house and throw the paper on the porch. One day I threw it and it hit near the door, and I saw this hand come out to get the paper. So I got off my bike and mustered up my courage and went up and kicked it a little bit further. He knew I was there, so he didn't do anything. The next day, I went up and threw it right where he could get it, and watched his hand come out.
    "You see, we'd never seen this person, except for maybe an eye through a hole in the slats of the shutters. After about a week or two of courage, I went up and took the paper and knocked against the door and dropped it on the floor. And he reached down and got it. I was taking the paper every afternoon about 4 o'clock. Finally, I got to where I would knock on the door with the paper, and he would reach out and take it out of my hand.
    "The school ground was directly behind the mysterious house. If the children that played on the school yard would kick the ball over the fence, nobody would go over and get it.
    "After the book came out, the thing that was really strange to me was people would ask me, 'How about the book? Do you think this is typical?' I would say, 'I think this could have happened in any small town in south Alabama'.
    "I have a librarian friend in Mississippi to whom I gave an autographed copy, and she said, 'Oh, A.B., this could have happened here. We have a similar "strange" situation here in Mississippi.'
    "I talked to somebody in Florida, and it's the same thing there, too."
  • Information and pictures courtesy The Monroe Museum.
    From their book: Monroeville - The Search for Harper Lee's Maycomb; Charleston, SC, 1999.
    Order the book from Amazon (France, Germany, UK, USA)