30 Facts about Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

John | 21 - 07 - 2020
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The Pulitzer prize-winner and author Harper Lee is considered a mysterious figure in American literature. She retired from the limelight shortly after her novel got her fame in the 1960s. Harper Lee’s last public appearance was in November 2007 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George Washington Bush. She is America’s popular author despite the fact that she’s written only one book.

Harper Lee Background

  1. Harper Lee’s real name is Nelle Harper Lee
  2. Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926.
  3. She is the youngest of the four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee.
  4. Her father was a lawyer who served the State from 1926-1938.
  5. Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, a small town in southwest Alabama.
  6. She attended public school in Monroeville, Huntingdon College, and a private school for women in Montgomery for a year. She was then transferred to the University of Alabama.
  7. Lee studied at Oxford University after her graduation.
  8. She returned to the University of Alabama to study law but withdrew before graduation.

Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird Information

  1. She moved to New York in 1949 to work as a reservations clerk for Eastern Air Lines and British Overseas Airways.
  2. She wrote several essays and short stories but they were not published.
  3. Her friends encouraged her to quit the job and concentrate on writing.
  4. She submitted the manuscript to J.B. Lippincott Company in 1957.
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 with the help of Lippincott editor Tay Hohoff.
  6. Lee refused to write an introduction for later editions of the book.
  7. She also worked on another abandoned true-crime novel based on an Alabama trial.
  8. She received the National Medal of Arts in 2010
  9. Lee published Go Set a Watchman in 2015. She worked on the manuscript before working on To Kill a Mockingbird.
  10. She died at the age of 89, on February 19, 2016.

The Book

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird was the bestseller for 88 weeks.
  2. It still sells a million copies a year.
  3. The book was translated into 40 languages.
  4. The fictional Maycomb is based on Harper Lee’s hometown.
  5. The character Dill in the book is based on Truman Capote, who was Lee’s friend for decades.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
  7. The PBS Great American Read named the book “America’s Favorite Book” in 2018.

The Movie

  1. The movie based on Harper Lee’s novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was released in 1962.
  2. Playwright Horton Foote wrote the screenplay for the film.
  3. Robert Duvall played Boo Radley in the movie.
  4. Lee and Gregory Peck remained friends long after the filming.
  5. Gregory Peck named his grandson “Harper.”
  6. The film won three academy awards for Best Actor, Best Art Direction, and Best Writing. It was nominated for eight categories.

What interesting facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird surprised you?

1. How Many Books Did Harper Lee Write?
  • A. 1
  • B. 2
  • C. 3
  • D. 4
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