10:14 AM / Friday July 1, 2022

28 Aug 2011

Author’s letter is focal point in ‘The Help’ suit

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
August 28, 2011 Category: Stateside Posted by:

By Holbrook Mohr

Associated Press



JACKSON, Mississippi–A handwritten letter from author Kathryn Stockett has become the focal point of a lawsuit over her bestselling novel “The Help,” which has been made into a box office hit.


A housekeeper who works for Stockett’s brother claims her likeness was used in the book without permission. “The Help” is based on relationships between white families in Mississippi and the black women who worked for them in the 1960s. The movie adaptation of “The Help” took the No. 1 spot in theaters this past weekend with $20.5 million.


Hinds County, Mississippi, Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green dismissed Ablene Cooper’s lawsuit last week. Green said the statute of limitations elapsed between the time that Stockett gave Cooper a copy of the book in January 2009 and the lawsuit’s filing in February of this year.


Cooper’s lawyer, Edward Sanders, filed a motion last week to have the lawsuit reinstated. The motion argues that the clock should not have started ticking on the statute of limitations until Cooper read the book in the summer of 2010.


Sanders argued that Cooper didn’t read it sooner because Stockett said in the letter that, despite the similarity in names, the character wasn’t based on Cooper.


In a response filed with the court Monday, Stockett’s lawyers said the letter accompanied a copy of the book and Cooper waited too long to sue under the one-year statute of limitations.


“The note makes clear that Ms. Stockett told Mrs. Cooper that a character in the novel was named ‘Aibileen.’ With note and novel in her possession, Mrs. Cooper knew, or reasonably should have known, of her potential claims in January 2009,” Stockett’s lawyers wrote in court papers.


Stockett’s defense team also said the letter has already been discussed in court and the judge made the correct decision in throwing out the lawsuit.


Sanders had no comment Tuesday.


The judge has not made any determination on whether Aibileen was based on Cooper. Stockett denies she was.


In the letter, Stockett says she only met Cooper a few times, but was thankful she worked for the writer’s brother because his kids love her.


“One of the main characters, and my favorite character, is an African American child carer named Aibileen,” the letter said. “Although the spelling is different from yours, and the character was born in 1911, I felt I needed to reach out and tell you that the character isn’t based on you in any way.”


The letter goes on to say the book is “purely fiction” and inspired by Stockett’s relationship with “Demetrie, who looked after us and we loved dearly.” The letter is referring to Demetrie McLorn, the Stockett family’s housekeeper, who died when the author was a teenager.


An affidavit said Cooper knows Stockett, has kept her child before, and had no reason not to trust her.


“She’s a liar,” Cooper screamed outside the courthouse after the lawsuit was dismissed last week. “She did it. She knows she did it.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Testimony: Trump fought security official for control of the presidential SUV on Jan. 6, demanded to be taken the Capitol as the insurrection began

June 28, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump rebuffed his own security’s warnings about armed protesters...


Guest Commentary
Solutions, not excuses; People are dying every day

June 25, 2022



Community College of Philadelphia to pay off $1.4 million in outstanding student account balances

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Community College of Philadelphia announced that it will pay off more than $1.4...

Color Of Money

Americans still have financial goals, just not sure how they will reach them

June 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT If you have a vision for where you’d like to be financially...


Takeaways: Trump’s mind ‘made up’ on fraud ahead of Jan. 6

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: A video exhibit plays as the House select committee investigating the...

Go With The-Flo

Sherri Shepherd’s talk show, “Sherri,” to air in place of former “The Wendy Williams Show”

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Sherri Shepherd (Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock) By Flo Anthony After 13...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff