American writer, famous for her race relations novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The book became an international bestseller and was adapted into screen in 1962. Lee was 34 when the work was published, and it has remained her only novel.
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
from Robert E. Lee, the Southern Civil War general, Harper Lee was born
in Monroeville, Alabama. Her father was a former newspaper editor and
proprietor, who had served as a state senator and practiced as a lawyer
in Monroeville. Lee studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945
to 1949, and spent a year as an exchange student in Oxford University,
To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee's first novel. The book is set in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. Atticus Finch, a lawyer and a father, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a poor white girl, Mayella Ewell. The setting and several of the characters are drawn from life - Finch was the maiden name of Lee's mother and the character of Dill was drawn from Capote, Lee's childhood friend.
"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal - there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States of the humblest J.P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal." (Finch defending Tom Robinson)
The narrator is Finch's daughter, nicknamed Scout, an immensely intelligent and observant child. She starts the story when she is six and relates many of her experiences, usual interests of a child and collisions with the reality which intrudes into the sheltered world of childhood. Her mother is dead and she tries to keep pace with her older brother Jem. He breaks his arm so badly that it heals shorter than the other. During the humorous and sad events Scout and Jem learn a lesson in good and evil and justice. As Scout's narrative goes on, the reader realize that one watches a personality in the making. Scout tells her story in her own language which is obviously that of a child, but she also analyzes the events from the viewpoint of an already grown-up, mature person. We know that she will not grow to become a stiff society lady and she will never kill a mockingbird or wrong a weak person.
plot tells the story of Boo Radley, who is generally considered deranged,
and the second concerns Tom Robinson. A jury of twelve white men refuse
to look past the color of man's skin and convict Robinson of a crime
he did not commit. Atticus, assigned to defend Tom, loses is court.
Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, is obviously guilty of beating her for
Although her first novel gained a huge success, Lee did not continue her career as a writer. She returned from New York to Monroeville, where she has lived avoiding interviews. To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into several languages. An illustrated English edition appeared in Moscow in 1977 for propaganda reasons. In the foreword Nadiya Matuzova, Dr.Philol., wrongly stated that "Harper Lee did not live to see her fiftieth birthday," and added perhaps rightly: "But her only, remarkable novel which continued the best traditions of the American authors who wrote about America's South - Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell and many others - will forever belong in the treasure of progressive American literature."
reading: Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Joyce Milton,
Tessa Krailing (paperback 1984); ToKill a Mockingbird Notes, ed. by
Eva Fitzwater( 1984); Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird by Claudia
Durst Johnson and Harper Lee (1994 ); You Can Go Home Again by Rebecca
Lutterell Bailey (1993); Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, ed. by
* TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, 1961 - Kuin
surmaisi satakielen - Pulitzer Prize in 1961 - Film 1962, dir. by Robert
Mulligan, written by Horton Foote. Gregory Peck won finally Best Actor
Oscar for his compassionate perfoarmance. - The book was adapted into
a play by Christopher Sergel and produced in England in 1987.