Harper Lee Group 1 Ally Peterson Audrey Trossen Rachel Reimer PhyliciadeThomas
When and where was Harper Lee born? What was her family like? • April 28th 1926 • Monroeville, Alabama • Harper is the youngest of four children. Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature and also owned part of the local newspaper. For most of Lee's life, her mother suffered from mental illness, rarely leaving the house. It is believed that she may have had bipolar disorder.
Who was her childhood best friend? • Truman Capote • The two were opposites—Capote was a sensitive boy who was picked on by other kids for being a wimp, while Lee was a rough and tumble tomboy. Despite their differences, Lee found Capote to be a delight, calling him "a pocket Merlin" for his creative and inventive ways. Little did these playful pals know that they would both become famous writers one day. Capote is the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Other Voices, Other Room In Cold Blood & The Grass Harp
What did she study in college? • Harper Lee graduated high school in the year 1944, and then attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery which was an all girls’ school. Following soon after, Lee transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Her junior year, she was accepted into the university’s law school, allowing her to focus on her law degree and her undergraduate. The growing demands of her major forced her to leave her position as the editor of the Rammer Jammer. After her first year in the law program, she expressed to her family that writing was her true passion.
Did she participate in any extra-curricular activities? • Harper Lee joined both the Glee Club and became a member of the literary honor society in Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
Why might this be important to consider while reading To Kill A Mockingbird? Given her knowledge of the justice system, she was able to accurately portray Atticus Finch as a lawyer and could accurately describe the judicial process. It allowed her to create a realistic trial for Tom Robinson.
How did her decision to move to New York make To Kill A Mockingbird a reality? • Harper Lee arrived in New York in 1949 as a struggling writer. She was able to get in touch with her childhood friend, Truman Capote, also an up and coming author. She soon befriended Michael Martin Brown, a Broadway composer and lyricist, and his wife, Joy. • In 1956, the Brown’s offered to support Lee for a year, enabling her to be able to write full time. They were also able to find her an agent, Maurice Crain. • She then published her first novel, Atticus, which was originally named Go Set a Watchman. She began assisting Capote on some of his articles for The New Yorker. • To Kill a Mockingbird was soon after published in 1960 at the height of Harper Lee’s literary success.
What year was To Kill A Mockingbird published? • Published July 11, 1960 Look how happy she is. Just loooookk.
When was it adapted to screen? • 1962 • Harper Lee and Mary Badham, who played Scout in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Was Harper Lee honored in any way following the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird? • The Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to her by President George W. Bush on November 5, 2007. • Lee also received an honorary doctorate from the university of Notre Dame.
Opinions and influences • Harper Lee clearly based much of her most famous novel on her own life experiences. She grew up a tomboy and her father was a lawyer, attributes shared by novel’s protagonist, Scout. The character Dill was based on Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote, and Scout’s family name is that of Lee’s mother. It is clear that Lee is an author whose work is heavily influenced by her own experiences. • Due to the fact that the elements of the novel are based on Lee’s friendship with Capote, we predict that To Kill A Mockingbird will largely be a coming of age tale. It is also important to consider the time and place where Lee grew up and how this translates to her novel. Lee was raised in Alabama, in a time where segregation was still legal and black Americans were denied equal justice beneath the law. It is likely her novel will reflect racial tensions of the time. • Our knowledge of Harper Lee’s life will influence our reading - and it should. It’s important to understand why an author chose to write a specific work and to place it within its proper historical context. This is especially important with To Kill A Mockingbird, which is at its core a historical novel.