Black Woman Suing Bestselling Novelist for Basing Character on Her

February 18, 2011  |  

(Canadian Press) — A black woman who once worked as a maid for a relative of novelist Kathryn Stockett is suing the author of the bestselling book “The Help,” claiming she was the basis for a black servant character who she thought depicted her in a poor light.  The novel is based on relationships between white families and their African-American maids in the segregated South of the 1960s, and a driving character in the book is a woman named Aibileen.  Now, a real-life woman named Ablene Cooper, who said she worked for Stockett’s brother, is claiming Stockett used her name and likeness without permission and with embarrassing results.  The lawsuit was filed Feb. 9 in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, Mississippi, where Stockett grew up. It asks for $75,000 in damages, an amount chosen to keep the litigation from ending up in federal jurisdiction, where larger actions are often decided.

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