To Kill A Mockingbird author's sister dies aged 103

Tributes have been paid to the sister of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, who has died aged 103.

Alice Finch Lee aged 100.Marianne Lee

Alice Finch Lee was the author's older sister and a prominent United Methodist laywoman. Harper Lee, now 88, dedicated her 1960 book – one of the best-selling novels of all time – to her and to their father.

It tells the story of a lawyer, Atticus Finch, who risks his life to defend a black man falsely accused of rape in depression-era Alabama. It has become a set texts in schools around the world, won a Pulitzer prize and led to Harper being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. It is her only published book.

Alice Finch Lee was herself a pioneer in south Alabama as a woman lawyer, practising law in her home town of Monroeville from 1944 until she was nearly 100. According to United Methodist News (UMN) during the 1960s struggle over integration, Lee left a standing order with ushers in her church that any African-American seeking admission should be seated by her.

She also, as an Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference voter, used a parliamentary maneuver to thwart efforts to block a committee report calling for acknowledgment of racial divisions in the Church.

Introducing her for an award given her by the Alabama Bar Association in 2003, the pastor emeritus of First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Rev Thomas Butts, described her as "Atticus in a skirt". He told UMN that she was asked once what positions she had held in her local church. "She thought for a minute and said, 'I've never been pastor,' which meant she'd done everything else," he said.