Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird

Literary Classics / Great Authors Datebook: April 28 

Harper Lee (Nelle Harper Lee), is the author of one of America's most beloved literary classics, To Kill a Mockingbird, loved by millions of readers worldwide. She is born this day, 28th April 1926, and died at the age of 89, 19th February 2016.

Lee was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, and grew up during the Great Depression. Her family is descended from the American Civil War general Robert E. Lee. She followed in the footsteps of her father, a lawyer, and went to law school. However, Harper Lee had been writing since she was 7. At the age of 29 she left law school and went to New York city to pursue her writing career. She supported herself by working for an airline company.

She spent more than two years rewriting her novel after it had been accepted by a publisher. This was in 1960 when she was 34. To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate success.  This was also the time when the civil rights movement was escalating and the book's examination of racial hatred in the South made it especially poignant. Its theme summed up with the advice of Atticus Finch (the noble lawyer) given to Scout, his young daughter: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Below is the film Sountrack:  To Kill a Mockingbird (Elmer Bernstein), YouTube, uploaded by bobbengan. Accessed April 28, 2016.  The score for To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Elmer Bernstein, is regarded as one of the greatest film scores and has been recorded three times.

The story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Scout whose father is a lawyer in a small Alabama town. The novel explores the themes of justice and prejudice, suggesting that children's natural sense of justice is damaged by society's racism.  

Harper Lee surprised readers 55 years later with the unexpected publication of Go Set a Watchman in July 2015. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, the adored father of the young daughter and narrator Scout, stood up to a white lynch mob and unsuccessfully defended a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

In Watchman, this time an older Atticus had racial views that left the grown-up Scout greatly disillusioned.  Reportedly, Lee had written "Go Set a Watchman" first but at the suggestion of an editor, set it aside to tell a tale of race in the South from the child's point of view in the 1930s.

Harper Lee was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1961. It was made into a film starring Gregory Peck a year later. Since then, she has received various awards and honors for her work, including honorary doctorates.


Interesting facts about To Kill a Mockingbird (the film): here.
Best quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird: here.


Harper Lee. en.wikipedia.org. Accessed 19 February 2016.

Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Dies Aged 89.  The Guardian.  Accessed 19 February 2016. 

Harper Lee: US author of To Kill a Mockingbird Dies Aged 89.  BBC/ US & Canada.  Accessed 19  February 2016.

In Memoriam: Harper Lee (1926-2016).  www.pulitzer.org.  Accessed 19 February 2016.  

The Measure of Harper Lee: A Life Measured by a Towering Text.  NPR.org.  Accessed 20 February 2016.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Film). en.wikipedia.org. Accessed 20 February 2016. 

To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee (Novel). en.wikipedia.org. Accessed 20 February 2016.  

Tributes pour in from George W Bush to Oprah and Tim Cook after To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee dies aged 89, leaving behind an estimated $40M fortune.  Daily Mail.  Accessed 20 February 2016.

Video Credit:

Harper Lee.  NNDB.

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