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 ›
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 Mockingbird—inarguably 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 ›
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.
Pre-order the novel, $15.95 for hardcover or $13.99 for Kindle, on Amazon.
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!
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
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
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.
Last night, I found my sixteen-year-old daughter in bed a full hour early. In her hands was Harper Lee‘s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. “I want to see what is happening with Scout. I’m worried about her,” she explained.
My daughter, like millions of other readers, has become enthralled by the coming-of-age story of Scout Finch as she navigates the racially-charged world of Alabama in the 1930s.
Yesterday, April 28, 2013, marked the 87th birthday of Harper Lee, the novel’s author. To Kill a Mockingbird was immediately popular and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. It was an instant critical success as well, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 2008, London’s The Telegraph named To Kill a Mockingbird “the greatest novel of all time.”
The novel, Lee’s only published work, may not have ever been. She was struggling to make ends meet in New York, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines. While in the city, she became friends with the composer and lyricist Michael Brown and his wife, Joy. The three became very close. In December, the Brown’s gave Lee an astonishing gift: a years’ salary with a note that read, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.” Within a year, Lee had completed the first draft of Mockingbird.
Hot on the heels of Lee’s Pulitzer was the film being made of her work. The movie was released in 1962 starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird won three Oscars and was nominated for five more. In 2003, AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.
Want more? How about some trivia?!
Five Quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird
- Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.
- I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
- Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.
- 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.
- You really never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Seven Quotes: On Reading & Writing
- More than a simple matter of putting down words, writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they’re quite different from people who must write.
- There’s no substitute for the love of language, for the beauty of an English sentence. There’s no substitute for struggling, if a struggle is needed, to make an English sentence as beautiful as it should be.
- I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.
- Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.
- It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold. I didn’t expect the book to sell in the first place. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.
- Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.
- You must come to terms with yourself about your writing. You must not write ‘for’ something; you must not write with definite hopes of reward. (Source).
Still want more?? Test your knowledge of Harper Lee or her classic novel! Take our fun, interactive quizzes!