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Monroeville, Alabama, 28 April 1926 • American novelist
|Harper Lee’s cousin, Richard Williams, has asked the reclusive author when she’s going to come out with another book. And she said, 'Richard, when you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go’.
For Harper Lee, 'the top' is her novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 and was made into an Academy Award–winning film, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, in 1962. Except for a couple of short magazine pieces, this single novel constitutes her entire literary output.
Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama, in 1926. After a year (1944-1945) at Huntington College in Montgomery, she went to the University of Alabama to study law. She remained at Alabama, including a year as an exchange student at Oxford University, from 1945 to 1949. She left the university six months before completing her
| law degree to go to New York City to become a writer.
In New York she began to write while working as an airline reservation clerk. At the urging of a literary agent, she concentrated on expanding one of her short stories into a novel. In 1957 she took her manuscript to the publishing company Lippincott, where editors saw promise in her work and encouraged her to continue to revise it. The manuscript eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960.
Since the early 1960s Harper Lee has declined to give interviews and has avoided publicity. She was asked to write an introduction for the 35th-anniversary edition of Mockingbird but declined. In 1991 she made a rare public appearance to accept an honorary degree from the University of Alabama. She now divides her time between Monroeville and New York.
|ON HARPER LEE'S BOOKSHELF|
Jane Austen, 1816
Quick-witted, beautiful, headstrong and rich, Emma Woodhouse is inordinately fond of matchmaking. Yet the irony is that she is oblivious to the question of who she herself might marry.
The Weir of Hermiston
Robert Louis Stevenson, 1896
In this unfinished novel, the battle between good and evil is played out between father and son.
Tales from Shakespeare
Charles Lamb, 1807
Written in the early 19th century, these tales form an introduction to Shakespeare's greatest plays. They aim to convey his wit, wisdom and humanity, without losing the feel of his language.
|BOOKS BY HARPER LEE:|
To Kill a Mockingbird
'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' This is a lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of the story - a black man charged with raping a white girl in the 1930s.
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