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Harper Lee and to Kill a Mockingbird

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Harper Lee and her Works

Harper Lee knew first hand about the life in the south in the 1930’s. She was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 (Castleman 2). Harper Lee was described by one of her friends as “Queen of the Tomboys” (Castleman 3). Scout Finch, the main character of Lee’s Novel, To Kill a Mockinbird, was also a tomboy. “Many aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird are autobiographical” (Castleman 3). Harper Lee’s parents were Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. She was the youngest of four children. Ms. Lee’s novel has many characters that have similar characteristics to Lee’s own family. Atticus Finch was an attorney, while Lee’s own father was also an attorney, as well as Harper Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee (Kansas).

Harper Lee’s studies included attendance at Huntingdon College. She also studied law at the University of Alabama, as well as one year at Oxford University. Before Ms. Lee’s writing career was begun, she worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Airlines in the 1950’s in New York City. Ms. Lee quit the airline position so she could pursue her writing career. She first submitted her novel to be published in 1957. The

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publisher suggested she re-write the novel because they felt it was more a “series of short stories” (Kansas). It wasn’t until 1960 that her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was actually

published. This would be Harper Lee’s only book. However, in 1961, two articles were published that were written by Lee. Vogue magazine published an article entitled, Love-In Other Words. Also that year, McCall’s magazine published Christmas to Me, written by Lee. In 1965, McCall’s published Lee’s article, When Children Discover America (Kansas).

Although Harper Lee has only published one novel, she has been awarded many honors for her writing. President Johnson named Lee to the National Council of Arts in 1966. Ms. Lee received one of her many honorary doctorates in 1990. This doctorate was awarded by the University of Alabama. She also received one from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama in 1997 (Kansas). To Kill a Mockingbird was an impressive novel that touched many people. The descriptive writing of Harper Lee leads the writer to really get the feel of the way of life during the times of depression in the south.

Harper Lee lived part of her life in New York and other cities. However, her southern childhood, gave her the insight to portray the racial prejudice, the impact of the depression, and the simple ways of southern life in her writings. Ms. Lee wrote a book that has become a classic and remains popular today.

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People of the south in the 1930’s lived a simpler slower life. Most southern homes had no electricity in the early 1930’s until the Tennessee Valley Authority created huge hydroelectric facilities (McNair 58). Just as the children in To Kill a Mockingbird, the children of the 1930’s had very little money to spend on entertainment. Reading and games were popular forms of inexpensive entertainment (Nash 868). Scout and Jem Finch, the young characters of Lee’s novel, spent their days outside playing games and discovering the interesting things that were in their world. They learned about life and death at a young age.

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