The one thing…

The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

– Harper Lee


born in Monroeville, Alabama, The United States April 28, 1926
gender: female
genre: Literature & Fiction

Harper Lee, known as Nelle, was born in the Alabama town of Monroeville, the youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Her father, a former newspaper editor and proprietor, was a lawyer who served on the state legislature from 1926 to 1938. As a child, Lee was a tomboy and a precocious reader, and enjoyed the friendship of her schoolmate and neighbor, the young Truman Capote.

After graduating from high school in Monroeville, Lee enrolled at the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery (1944-45), and then pursued a law degree at the University of Alabama (1945-50), pledging the Chi Omega sorority. While there, she wrote for several student publications and spent a year as editor of the campus humor magazine, “Ramma-Jamma”. Though she did not complete the law degree, she studied for a summer in Oxford, England, before moving to New York in 1950, where she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines and BOAC.

Lee continued as a reservation clerk until the late 50s, when she devoted herself to writing. She lived a frugal life, traveling between her cold-water-only apartment in New York to her family home in Alabama to care for her father.

Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. The following month at the East 50th townhouse of her friends Michael Brown and Joy Williams Brown, she received a gift of a year’s wages with a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

Within a year, she had a first draft. Working with J. B. Lippincott & Co. editor Tay Hohoff, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959. Published July 11, 1960, the novel was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a poll by the Library Journal


21 thoughts on “The one thing…

  1. July 11, 1960: Harper Lee’s enduring classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published 53 years ago today.

  2. Well, conscience, for some they don’t have one. That’s an excellent story.

  3. One of my favorites too. Now I know more about the author. Thank you!

  4. Great book! Thanks for the quote, Gita!

  5. Loved the book and the movie too. Thought it was interesting she was a childhood friend of Truman Capote. I wish she had written more novels. But then some write lots of stories not worth the one of hers.

    • Yes, the movie was great, too. Capote was a neighbour of hers. Maybe she became content: β€œAny 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.”
      ― Harper Lee

  6. After blogging for a year I should have thought of that. lol Yes, we write for ourselves ….. and feel lucky if somebody else reads it.

  7. Beautiful – person, book, movie – I need to read some of her short stories

  8. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic. It is the typical freshman English class staple. I read it, Jordy and Peyton. πŸ™‚

  9. Yes, I learned and received much from the book and the movie. πŸ™‚

    • Nearly every line taught me a lesson. πŸ™‚
      β€œI 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 see it through no matter what.
      – Atticus Finch”
      ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

  10. “To Kill a Mocking Bird” is an amazing and timeless book (and a GREAT movie too!) Thanks for writing about her…

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