Lee's rise to fame: AdvertisementHarper Lee was the author of one book, but it was a book that had an extraordinary impact on American society: She divided her time between New York and Monroeville and developed a reputation as one of the most reclusive writers in the history of American letters. A tomboy from Monroeville, Ala., editor of her college humor magazine, The Rammer Jammer, and law school dropout, she took it on the lam to New York, got a job, made friends and managed to write a novel that hit the best-seller lists and stayed there, won a Pulitzer, got made into a major movie and became a staple of high school English along with Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby. Total sales are somewhere around 85 million, and it continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year. The book tells the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in a small southern town whose family is ostracized when he defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. She worked on two other books but never completed them. To Kill a Mockingbird, '' one of the best-selling novels of all time. Ms.