Harper Lee

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Nelle Harper Lee grew up during the Great Depression, and in a time where there was a lot of racism. A reviewer for ‘The New Yorker’ wrote,” Lee is a skilled, unpretentious, and totally ingenuous writer who slides unconcernedly and irresistibly back and forth between being sentimental, tough, melodramatic, acute, and funny” (Champion 124). Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 (Shields 3). She was the youngest of four children (Madden 29), and grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. She was known as Nelle by her friends and family. Harper was considered to be very much a tomboy and did not dress or act like the other girls her age, like her character Scout in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Harper was even given the nickname “Queen of Tomboys”, by her childhood friends. Harper Lee’s best friend as a child was Truman Capote, who later also became a famous author (Benard 53). Harper served as Truman’s bodyguard, and anytime someone tried beating Truman up, Harper would step in and defend him. This helped give Harper the reputation of being a bully (Shields 3). Harper graduated high school in 1944 (“Harper Lee Biography” 1). After high school, Harper attended Huntingdon College (Benard 16). In college Harper distinguished herself as a nonconformist and a ferocious independent (Shields 3), while also becoming an accomplished athlete in both soccer and volleyball (Bloom 76-80). After one year at Huntingdon College, Harper decided to transfer to the University of Alabama (Benard 17). While Harper was studying law at the University of Alabama, she was also involved in the college’s newspaper. Harper soon worked her way to becoming the editor (“Harper Lee Biography” 2). Six months before Harper would have finished law school, she decided to become a foreign exchange student at Oxford University, but only lasted for one semester. After attending Oxford University, Harper moved to New Your City to begin her writing career (Benard 17-23).

Nelle Harper Lee is still alive today (Shields 3). She began using her middle name Harper because she did not like people mispronouncing Nelle. Her personal life is a simple yet complicated story, and she had to overcome a lot of adversity early in life. She lost her mother on June 2, 1951 and a month later, July 12, 1951, lost her brother to a brain aneurysm (Madden 100). Harper moved back to Monroeville, Alabama with the loss of her mother and brother, and then shortly moved back to New York City (Shields 251). She liked living in New York City because she could come and go as she pleased. When Harper was not writing, her favorite places to go were the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the movies (Madden98). After the publishing of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, she moved back and forth between New York City and Monroeville (Shields 96). In 1964 she suffered a severe burn to her writing hand, due to a kitchen fire (Madden 150). Harper damaged her hand so badly in the fire that she ended up having surgery on it (Shields 251). In the summer of 1964 Harper went on vacation in hopes of getting ideas to finish her second novel (Shields 230). With the popularity of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ rising, reporters kept asking Harper for interviews but she refused to talk of the book and the social situations (Shields 5). She even turned down awards to stay private (Champion 113). In 2006 Oprah Winfrey invited Harper to be on her talk show, and Harper respectfully declined the offer because she did not want the publicity. When reporters want to know more about her, she tells them to read her book because she does not believe in biographies on people still living (Madden 179). Although she does not like attention, Harper meets young students every spring in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for an essay contest. She still gets fan mail as well, and even replies to a few of them (Shields 248). In November 2007 Harper suffered a major stroke. She pulled through the stroke, but suffers from macular degeneration and is starting to...
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