Author Harper Lee playing golf at local country club, 1961. [Scanned from contact sheet.]
DONALD UHRBROCK/Time & Life Pictures
By Marika Washchyshyn
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

It's been 55 years since Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird was released and leapt to international acclaim, earning her the Pulitzer prize for literature in 1961. Since then, the world has heard little from the reclusive author.

Lee, now 88, announced Feb. 3 that she would be releasing her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, that serves as a sequel to the Depression-era Mockingbird, following the original's protagonist Scout through the American civil rights movement.

What could she possible have been doing for those 50-odd years in between? If her past interviews reveal anything, Lee was probably hitting the links.

Nelle Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, Ala. She was the daughter of Amasa Coleman Lee (a newspaper editor, proprietor and lawyer) and Francis Cunningham Finch (a homemaker), and her father was an avid golfer. In 2010, the Daily Mail interviewed retired businessman George Thomas Jones, then 87, who knew the Lee family from childhood.

"I used to caddy for [Amasa] on the local golf course," Jones told the Mail. "He was so formal that he would wear a heavy three-piece suit, shirt, tie and stout shoes to play golf, even in the heat of the summer."

Like father, like daughter -- it would appear that Amasa Lee passed along his love of the game to his second daughter, Nelle, who took up the game as well as other recreational activities like fishing.

In an interview with Time Magazine in 1961, Lee explained how much being on the course helped her creatively. While not much of her life was public, it was widely understood that she found herself at her most creative while playing 18.

"[The Pulitzer Prize] was handsome recompense for "the long and hopeless period of writing the book over and over," writing much of it, moreover, on a golf course in her home town," the article reads.

"In Monroeville [Ala.], well, they're Southern people, and if they know you are working at home they think nothing of walking right in for coffee," Lee told Time. "But they wouldn't dream of interrupting you on the golf course."

Golf as a means of productivity? Sign us up!

How many rounds of golf can a person fit into 50-some years? If they're as helpful to her creative process as she says, we bet the majority of Lee's time was spent how most of us could only dream.

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