Although only two of her books - “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Go Set a Watchman - were published, Harper Lee is very much a literary icon. Born in Alabama on 28 April, 1926, Nelle Harper Lee brought the world the unforgettable characters Atticus Finch, Scout and Gem and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
Over 40 million copies of To Kill a Mockingbird have now been sold and the 1962 film adaptation starring Gregory Peck won four Academy Awards. Despite the success of this book, Harper Lee preferred to live a quiet life. She assisted her friend Truman Capote’s research for In Cold Blood during the 1950s and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Go Set a Watchmen was originally billed as a continuation of Atticus and Scout’s story but was later confirmed as To Kill a Mockingbird’s first draft upon its release in 2015. Harper Lee died in February, 2016.
Told through the young eyes of Scout and Jem, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is rightly heralded as a classic of modern literature. A black man has been charged with the rape of a white girl and the young children's father, Atticus Finch, is the lawyer tasked with defending him. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is soon pricked by this one man's struggle for justice. These irrational attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 30s are expertly explored with exuberant humour, contributing to a story and characters, such as the neighbour Boo Radley, that are truly unforgettable.