Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926. She is an American novelist mostly known for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. It deals with the racism she observed as a child in her home- town of Monroeville, Alabama and was inspired by the people the author knew as well as on an event that occurred in 1936, when she was 10 years old.
Like Lee, the girl Scout is the daughter of a respected small-town Alabama attorney. And her friend Dill was inspired by Lee’s childhood friend and neighbour, Truman Capote. The book was made into the well-received 1962 film with the same title directed by Robert Mulligan, starring Gregory Peck in the leading role and produced by Alan J. Pakula.
In February 2015 at age 88, after a stroke which le, and after a lifetime of maintaining that she would never publish another novel, a statement was issued through her Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, that Lee would publish a second novel, Go Set a Watchman (set to be published on July 14, 2015), written before To Kill a Mockingbird.
While enrolled at Monroe County High School, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating from high school in 1944, she attended the then all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery for a year, then transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she studied law for several years and wrote for the university newspaper, but did not complete a degree.
In 1949, Lee moved to New York City and took a job as an airline reservation agent, writing fiction in her spare time. Having written several long stories, Harper Lee found an agent in November 1956. The following month at Michael Brown’s East 50th Street townhouse, she received a gift of a year’s wages from friends with a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”
She eventually showed the manuscript to Tay Hohoff, an editor at J. B. Lippincott & Co. At this point, it still resembled a string of stories more than the novel Lee had intended. Under Hohoff’s guidance, two and a half years of rewriting followed. When the novel was finally ready, she opted to use the name “Harper Lee”, rather than have her first name Nelle be misidentified as “Nellie”.
Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a poll by the Library Journal.
To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
remembered Universal Pictures executives questioning him about a potential script: “They said, ‘What story do you plan to tell for the film?’ I said, ‘Have you read the book?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘That’s the story.'” The movie was a hit at the box office, quickly grossing more than $20 million from a $2-million budget. It won three Oscars: Best Actor for Gregory Peck, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for Horton Foote. It was nominated for five more Oscars including Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Mary Badham, the actress who played Scout.
A black and white photograph of Alan J. Pakula seated next to Harper Lee in director’s chairs watching the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird
Film producer Alan J. Pakula with Lee; Lee spent three weeks watching the filming, then “took off when she realized everything would be fine without her”.
Harper Lee was pleased with the movie, saying: “In that film the man and the part met… I’ve had many, many offers to turn it into musicals, into TV or stage plays, but I’ve always refused. That film was a work of art.” Peck met Lee’s father, the model for Atticus, before the filming. Lee’s father died before the film’s release, and Lee was so impressed with Peck’s performance that she gave him her father’s pocketwatch, which he had with him the evening he was awarded the Oscar for best actor. Years later, he was reluctant to tell Lee that the watch was stolen out of his luggage in London Heathrow Airport. When Peck eventually did tell Lee, he said she responded, “‘Well, it’s only a watch.’ Harper—she feels deeply, but she’s not a sentimental person about things.” Lee and Peck shared a friendship long after the movie was made. Peck’s grandson was named “Harper” in her honor.
In May 2005, Lee made an uncharacteristic appearance at the Los Angeles Public Library at the request of Peck’s widow Veronique, who said of Lee: “She’s like a national treasure. She’s someone who has made a difference…with this book. The book is still as strong as it ever was, and so is the film. All the kids in the United States read this book and see the film in the seventh and eighth grades and write papers and essays. My husband used to get thousands and thousands of letters from teachers who would send them to him