Understanding “To Kill a Mockingbird”: Top Q&A from Students

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It may just be impossible to consider classic American literature without delving into the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. Written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of the most well-known and impactful works of literature within the last century, and arguably on a more historical level as well. The novel tackles the realities of racial inequalities, gender roles, and class-based hierarchies as they existed in the 1930s, particularly in the American Deep South. Harper Lee was raised in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama and grew up experiencing life as it appears in her novel. Her father was even a lawyer who may have provided a great deal of inspiration for the character Atticus; in his day, Lee’s father worked to defend two black men accused of the murder of a white store clerk. Continue Reading ›

8 “To Kill a Mockingbird” Quotes that Exemplify Harper Lee’s Legacy

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As the sad news of Harper Lee‘s passing hit us and the rest of the literary crowd this morning, we’ve decided to compile some of the best lines from To Kill a Mockingbirdinarguably one of the most influential and important novels in our lifetime. These lines, in context and out, are simultaneously ethereal and grounded, simple and complex.

Lee’s legacy in TKAM will be continuing to show students and readers about the importance of love, tolerance, and friendship. Rest in peace, Harper Lee. Continue Reading ›

Chapter One Unveiled for Harper Lee’s Wildly Anticipated “Go Set a Watchman: A Novel”

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Fellow literature lovers, take a small sigh of Scout Finch-deprived relief.

We’ve all been holding our breath since Harper Lee’s announcement of Go Set a Watchman early February. This book comes more than 50 years after everyone’s favorite English class novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee’s second novel is scheduled for release July 14, and the first chapter (excerpt below) has been published, alongside beautiful animations, on The Guardian.

Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical. Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires. She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose.

Continue reading on The Guardian

Pre-order the novel, $15.95 for hardcover or $13.99 for Kindle, on Amazon.

Baffling Banned Books: A Fun (Disturbing) Quiz!

If you’ve waited to celebrate the chance to be Officially Subversive during Banned Books Week, it’s not too late!  Sure, you probably figured that Huck Finn is a perennial favorite for its politically incorrect language and Fifty Shades of Grey for its Crimes Against Ink and Trees, but I am willing to bet there are quite a few that will make you say, “Ummm. What?”  The alleged “reasons” for protecting Our Nation’s Youth are even more bizarre than you can imagine. 

Take our quiz and see if you can guess the actual arguments that succeeded in getting the following ten books on the Naughty List. Answers at the end of quiz!


1.  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

a)  The National Pork Council feared declining bacon sales

b)  Children were trapping dangerous spiders and being bitten

c)  A Kansas school district decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural

d)  Girls were being encouraged to defy their fathers


2.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

a)  Removed from classrooms in Miller, Missouri, for ‘making promiscuous sex look like fun.’

b)  Removed from Texas libraries for “encouraging revolution”

c)  Attempted ban in California for “focusing on negativity.”

d) Both a and c

Continue Reading ›

To Kill a(n)… Agent?: Harper Lee Sues to Regain Copyright of Her Famous Novel


One has to wonder just what sort of a creep you’re dealing with when the “alleged” creep decides to try to bilk money out of one of America’s most beloved, aging novelists.

Harper Lee, whose 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate popular and critical success, remains a best-seller, and is on many a high school curriculum, has been in declining health for a number of years. In 2007, she moved to an assisted living center; not long ago, Lee suffered a stroke. At age 87, she is also mostly blind and deaf.

So there is good reason to question her ability to truly know that she had recently signed over the rights to TKAM to her agent, Samuel Pinkus. Pinkus is the son-in-law of her longtime former agent, Eugene Winick. From 1960 to 2003, Winick represented Lee at his agency, MacIntosh and Otis. Winnick stepped aside and gave Lee’s account to Pinkus and his agency when Winick himself became ill.

The lawsuit filed on Lee’s behalf contends that “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see. Harper Lee had no idea she had assigned her copyright to Pinkus’s company.”

MacIntosh and Otis have already tangled with Pinkus, winning a judgement against Pinkus’s company for diverting commissions on numerous accounts.  Harper Lee, too, has had some success in her suits against the agent, removing him as her representative and getting royalties to be paid to her once again. Despite these wins, royalties continue to be diverted to Pinkus.

One hopes for a special place in hell.