“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
With the death of Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee last Friday, it only seems fitting to pay tribute to the late Alabama literary giant. We ran this post last summer, and today I wanted to share an updated version! I hope you can sit back and enjoy this post that is packed full of information, history, and the author we all knew and loved!
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience”
Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
Chances are, if you ask ten people if they have heard of the classic To Kill A Mockingbird, more than likely, all ten will have some knowledge of the Pulitzer Prize winning-best seller written by Harper Lee. As a young teen who loved to read, I was completely captivated with the compelling novel of racial prejudice in a small Southern city! With the highly anticipated release of Lee’s new book, “Go Set a Watchman” last summer, I spent a few hours in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee’s hometown and the setting of one of the world’s best loved novels! Katy and I so enjoyed our visit to the Old Courthouse Museum, where the setting of To Kill A Mockingbird really came to life and piqued my interest once again for Lee’s writings. I hope you will come along as we tour the literary capital of Alabama, my home state!
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for”
Judge Taylor, To Kill a Mockingbird
The Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama was completed in 1904 and now houses the Old Courthouse Museum. Fun fact: this photo was discovered by someone with the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association and they used our photo on the cover of their Fall 2015 journal! You can see it here.
“You 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.”
Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
The movie starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The film won three academy awards, including Best Actor for Peck, and was nominated for eight, including Best Picture. The film is widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made. The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century!
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what”
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
“From childhood on, I did sit in the courtroom watching my father argue cases and talk to juries” (from a 1962 interview). He once defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, a father and son, were hanged.
She attended the University of Alabama where she was editor of Rammer Jammer, a quarterly humor magazine on campus. She entered law school but loathed it and decided to pursue a writing career in New York!
To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 to highly favorable reviews and quickly climbed the bestseller lists, where it remained for 88 weeks. In 1961, the novel won the Pulitzer Prize. The book has sold over thirty million copies in eighteen languages.
One of Lee’s closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote, who came to live with relatives next door to the Lee’s! It is believed that the character of Dill is based on Capote.
In the decades since Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, her novel has been shadowed by a persistent rumor. The speculation has been that Lee’s long time friend Truman Capote either wrote or heavily edited the book. A letter that Capote wrote his aunt dated July 9, 1959 and made public when placed on display in the Monroe County Museum clearly debunks the idea!
Nelle Harper Lee never married and has continued to live in Monroeville, Alabama. In 1999, To Kill a Mockingbird was voted best novel of the century by the Library Journal. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
In February of 2015, 55 years after her novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published, it was announced that the 88 year old would publish her second novel, Go Set a Watchman. The book features her memorable character Scout as an adult and was written prior to the famous To Kill a Mockingbird!
When we left, we drove two blocks down to the site where Lee and Capote were neighbors. The lot that once held Lee’s home is now “Mel’s Dairy Dream”, a local burger joint. When we arrived and hopped out to take pictures, a local was curious as to why we were taking pictures–he had no idea the literary history of the ground he was standing on! It was neat to talk to him about the area and tell him why we were there!
In April 1963 in my hometown, our local theater rolled out the red carpet for the two young stars of To Kill a Mockingbird. The theater hosted a premier of the film based on the novel written by Alabama novelist Harper Lee. Gadsden native Phillip Alford, who played the role of “Jem” and Mary Badham, who played the role of “Scout” were given keys to the city. Exactly 45 years later, the two actors returned to Gadsden for a screening of the movie!
Two weeks after its release, we spotted Go Set a Watchman in storefronts in Dublin, Ireland and Newcastle, England!
Linking with Pieced Pastimes, Silver Pennies, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Thoughts From Alice, Coastal Charm, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Dwellings-Heart of Your Home, Savvy Southern Style, French Country Cottage, From My Front Porch To Yours, Stone Gable, Confessions of a Plate Addict, Worthing Court, Between Naps on the Porch, Cedar Hill Farmhouse, A Stroll Thru Life, The Charm of Home, Cornerstone Confessions, A Delightsome Life, Imparting Grace, Posed Perfection, Katherines Corner, Rooted In Thyme, Share Your Cup, The Enchanting Rose, 21 Rosemary Lane, Cozy Little House, Rattlebridge Farm, Rustic & Refined, My Romantic Home, Poofing The Pillows