To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

Harper Lee To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee with Mary Badham
who played Scout in the film
adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee Biography

Nelle Harper Lee (born 28 April 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama) was an American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner. She was best known for her book To Kill A Mockingbird.

Harper Lee was the youngest of four children of Frances Cunningham Finch Lee and Amasa Coleman Lee, a lawyer and state senator from Alabama and a descendant of the Southern General Robert E. Lee. She attended Huntingdon College (1944-1945), studied law at the University of Alabama (1945-1949) and spent a year at Oxford in England. Before her career as a writer, she worked during the 1950s for some time at the counter of Eastern Airlines and BOAC in New York. She eventually left this job in order to completely devote herself to writing.

To Kill A Mockingbird

In 1957 Harper Lee submitted a manuscript of short stories about life in the southern U.S. to the publishing house JB Lippincott & Co. There, working with her editor Tay Hohoff, she turned these into the novel To Kill A Mockingbird over the next two and a half years.

Her first and only book, To Kill a Mockingbird was released in 1960 and the following year it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. By 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird was already being made into a movie with Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch, for which he won an Oscar. The film received three Oscars in total.

Harper Lee And Truman Capote

After To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee assisted her childhood friend and neighbor Truman Capote in research for his novel In Cold Blood. The character of Scout's neighbour Dill in To Kill A Mockingbird was probably based on Truman Capote. Truman Capote has occasionally hinted that parts of To Kill a Mockingbird came from his pen. Pearl Kazin Bell, a publishing editor of Harper's, sees these allegations as coming from the fact that Harper Lee has published no more novels since To Kill A Mockingbird. However Harper Lee has stated that this is because any successor would only stand in the shadow of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Harper Lee's Other Works

In 1961 Harper Lee published two articles in magazines: "Love - In Other Words" in Vogue and "Christmas To Me" in McCall's. Another essay, "When Children Discover America" was also published in McCall's in 1965.

In June 1966 Harper Lee was named by President Johnson in the National Council on the Arts. In 1983 she attended the Alabama History and Heritage Festival in Eufaula, Alabama. There Lee presented the essay "Romance and High Adventure".

Harper Lee's Later Years

Later in life, Harper Lee lived in New York and Monroeville, very withdrawn from the public. One of her rare public appearances was to receive the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award in May 2005.

In 2007, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Go Set a Watchman

On 14 July 2015 the novel Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee was published. Although Go Set a Watchman was written in the mid 1950s, leading up to its release it was marketed as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. However it is now widely believed that Go Set a Watchman was the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman is set about 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird and features Atticus Finch and an adult Scout Finch who returns to Maycomb from New York and grapples with disillusionment and the bigotry she finds in the town.


At the age of 89, Harper lee died in her sleep on 19 February 2016. A funeral was held for her on 20 February and her close family and friends attended.

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