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Smile at Harper Lee's Wry Trick to Overcome Public Speaking Fears

The pep talk from this reclusive writer will make you laugh.
Smile at Harper Lee's Wry Trick to Overcome Public Speaking Fears
Image credit: Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Harper Lee was best known for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. But the late author was also famous for her reclusiveness. The book's commercial and literary success -- it won a Pulitzer prize -- would eventually force her from the public eye.

Related: 10 Powerful Harper Lee Quotes

Of course, it seems the famous author, who would have turned 91 today, was never really comfortable in front of a crowd, as revealed in a new book, Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship With Harper Lee. As letters published in the book show, the author hated public speaking and would often vomit before going on stage.

To trick herself, Lee developed what she wryly called a "mantra of great egotism." The short internal chat, as reported earlier today in the New York Times, went as follows: 

“I’m older than anybody here, I know more than anybody here, so why should I be so afraid of anybody here?”

Related: 10 Powerful Elie Wiesel Quotes

According to Lee, this trick is effective -- for around 15 minutes. So keep it in mind for your next speaking engagement and plan accordingly.