March 29, 2016

You can own Harper Lee’s Trump Taj Mahal-bashing letter


Harper Lee was not a fan of this gaming facility. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Harper Lee was not a fan of this gaming facility. (via Wikimedia Commons)

If Go Set a Watchman didn’t sate your hunger for all things Harper Lee, and if even the $1,500 Go Set a Watchman collectors’ edition wasn’t enough, you’re in luck. You can now buy twenty-nine letters by Lee, all of which are up for auction.

The letters don’t come cheap—none of them has a minimum bid lower than $750—and they are not all of interest. For example, a letter consisting entirely of the text “I have had a stroke and cannot answer mail. Thanks anyway! Harper Lee” is probably not worth the asking price.

But for those Lee readers who happen to have a distaste for Donald Trump—or at least his casinos—Nate D. Sanders Auctions might have an item worth pursuing. A letter Lee sent to her friend Doris Leapard in 1990 begins:

The last set of Visitors departed today: the worst punishment God can devise for this sinner is to make her spirit reside eternally at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

There are many more good tidbits in that letter, though, sadly, no more thoughts about the presidential candidate or his gaming facilities. Still, $1,330 is a low price to pay for Trump mockery—it’s certainly cheaper than a billboard.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Schaub flagged another choice formulation by Lee, on a topic with which MobyLives readers are familiar—her own fame and the rather ambiguous role she played in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama:

There has evolved a new holiday sport in Monroeville, that of people bringing their visiting relatives to look at me. There is so little in the way of entertainment, looking at Harper Lee is something to do. Thanksgiving weekend was such hell that it got on Alice’s nerves as well–they came in VANS.

And now, thanks to the terrific scans on the Sanders Auctions site, everyone around the world can peer into Harper Lee’s life for free—at least until the auction is over this Thursday.



Mark Krotov was a senior editor at Melville House.