Harper Lee
Lee studied first at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama
(1944-45), then pursued a law degree at the University of Alabama
(1945-49), including one year abroad at Oxford University, England. She
worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Airlines in New York City until
the late 50s, when she resolved to devote herself to writing. Lee lived a
frugal lifestyle, traveling between her cold-water apartment in New York
to her family home in Alabama to care for her ailing father. She worked in
Holcombe, Kansas, as a research assistant for Truman Capote's novel In
Cold Blood in 1959.
Lee published her first and only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1960,
after a two-year period of revising and rewriting under the guidance of her
editor, Tay Hohoff, of the J. B. Lippincott Company. To Kill a
Mockingbird won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, despite mixed critical reviews.
The novel was highly popular, selling more than fifteen million copies.
Though she delved into her own experiences as a child in Monroeville,
Lee intended for the book to impart the sense of any small Deep South
town and the universal characteristics of people everywhere. The book
was made into a successful movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck as
Lee was named to the National Council of Arts in June of 1966 by
President Johnson, and has received numerous honorary doctorates since
then. She continues to live in New York and Monroeville but prefers to
live a relatively private existence, granting few interviews or and giving few
speeches. She has published only a few short essays since her publishing
debut ("Love--In Other Words" in Vogue, 1961; "Christmas to Me" in
McCalls, 1961; and "When Children Discover America" in McCalls,
Credit goes to http://www.gradesaver.com
Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, to Amasa Coleman Lee and
Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Harper Lee grew up in the small southwestern
Alabama town of Monroeville. Her father, a former newspaper editor and
proprietor, was a lawyer who also served on the state legislature (1926-38). As a
child, Lee was a tomboy and a precocious reader and enjoyed the friendship of
her schoolmate and neighbor, the young Truman Capote, who provided the basis
of the character of Dill in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Lee was only five years old in when the first trials began in April 1931 in
the small Alabama town of Scottsboro surrounding the purported rapes of
two white women by nine young black men. The defendants, who were
nearly lynched before being brought to court, were not provided with the
services of a lawyer until the first day of trial. Despite medical testimony
that the women had not been raped, the all-white jury found the men
guilty of the crime and sentenced all but the youngest, a twelve-year-old,
to death. Six years of subsequent trials saw most of these convictions
repealed and all but one of the men freed or paroled. The Scottsboro
case left a deep impression on the young Lee, who would use it later as
the rough basis for the events in To Kill a Mockingbird.