To Kill a Mockingbird
Type of Book
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was instantly successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel's impact by writing, "In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism."
No. of Pages:
Two hundred ninety-six pages (296), First edition)
About the Author
Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American author best known for her 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the author as a child in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Despite being Lee's only published book, it led to Lee being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States for her contribution to literature in 2007. Lee has also been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, but has always declined to make a speech. Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama, the youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Her mother's name was Finch. Her father, a former newspaper editor and proprietor, was a lawyer who served in the Alabama State Legislature from 1926 to 1938. As a child, Lee was a tomboy and a precocious reader, and was best friends with her schoolmate and neighbor, the young Truman Capote. In 1944, Lee graduated from Monroe County High School in Monroeville, and enrolled at the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery for one year, and pursued a law degree at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, pledging the Chi Omega sorority. Lee wrote for several student publications and spent a year as editor of the campus humor magazine, Rammer Jammer. Though she did not complete the law degree, she studied for a summer in Oxford, England, before moving to New York City in 1950, where she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines and BOAC. Lee continued as a reservation clerk until 1958, when she devoted herself to writing. She lived a frugal life, traveling between her cold-water-only apartment in New York City and her family home in south-central Alabama to care for her father.
Purpose of the Author
Many details of To Kill a Mockingbird are apparently autobiographical. Like Lee, the tomboy (Scout) is the daughter of a respected small-town Alabama attorney. The plot involves a legal case, the workings of which would have been familiar to Lee, who studied law. Scout's friend Dill was inspired by Lee's childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote,while Lee is the model for a character in Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. Harper Lee has downplayed autobiographical parallels. Yet Truman Capote, mentioning the character Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, described details he considered biographical: "In my original version of Other Voices, Other Rooms I had that same man living in the house that used to leave things in the trees, and then I took that out. He was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us. We used to go and get those things out of the trees. Everything she wrote about it is absolutely true. But you see, I take the same thing and transfer it into some Gothic dream, done in an entirely different way."
The small, depression-era southern town of Maycomb, Alabama provides a backdrop for the...