Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird
Written by Jacob C. Herman
To Kill a Mockingbird is the seminal book written by author Harper Lee and information about it is often requested from answering services. Lee was born in 1926 and lived most of her life in Monroeville, Alabama. As an adult she attended the Huntingdon College in Montgomery and later went onto the University of Alabama. She wrote many short stories during this time, focusing on racial inequities and racial problems, which were controversial at the time. While working in New York City during the 1950s she wrote short stories about her life in Alabama and eventually found a literary agent who agreed to work with her.
It took over two years for her to finish To Kill a Mockingbird and she was so unhappy with the finished product that she almost threw it away. Instead she went back to work, editing the novel that she called Atticus. The book hit the stores on July 11, 1960 and while it started out slowly, sales quickly soared.
To Kill a Mockingbird follows Scout Finch and her brother Jem and father Atticus. She becomes friends with Dill and the book describes the fear they have of a neighbor named Boo Radley. They learn that the man actually leaves them gifts and has affection for them. Around the same time Atticus takes on the case of a black man accused of raping a white woman.
The entire town revolts against the idea and even attempt to lynch the other man. Scout and her friends watch the trial, which ends with the man being accused despite the fact that witnesses lied under oath. The rest of the novel focuses on Scout and her father coming to terms with the decision even when another man attempts to hurt her simply to get back at her father.
Resources on the book include:
- Harper Lee: provides information on her life, her books and other important facts.
- Harper Lee Profile: a profile of the author specifically meant for teens and young adult readers.
- To Kill a Mockingbird and Jim Crowe: explains how the novel paralleled the ideas of the Jim Crowe laws in the United States.
- Historical Background: discusses the background of the novel and the state of the country at the time it was set.
- The Student Survival Guide: focuses on the thing students should know about the book including quotes, plot and characters.
- IMDB: describes the plot of the movie version, the actors, release dates and other important information.
- Spark Notes: breaks the novel into different sections such as the chapters, themes and characters.
- Harper Lee Biography: gives a complete history of the author and her life.
- Biography of Harper Lee: in depth biography of Lee and how she worked on her famous pieces.
- Harper Lee: offers basic information and facts about the reclusive author.
- Who is Harper Lee?: focuses on the author and her reclusive background of avoiding interviews.
- Gregarious for a Day: details the author’s decision to meet with high school students after years of avoiding the public.
- Then and Now: focuses on how the book and movie changed over time and since its original release.
- To Kill a Mockingbird Historical Perspective: provides historical information on the book with special activities for students.
- To Kill a Mockingbird: offers a full review of the book done in modern times.
The book itself remains a huge sensation. At least 30 million copies have been sold around the world and it’s still used in many high schools. The book is still challenged frequently as well because of its harsh racial language and some of the themes. Lee was asked the same questions so frequently that in 1964 she escaped the public eye and refused almost all interview requests. Even today she’s only appeared in the public a handful of times.
To Kill a Mockingbird was turned into a film in 1962, starring Gregory Peck. Lee herself visited the set and approved of the production. Peck and Lee became close friends later and stayed friends for years. She even gave him a pocket watch belonging to her father, which he carried with him to the Academy Awards when he won an Oscar for his performance. The book and movie remain favorites of many people today.
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