Monday, April 5, 2010

Alabamian of the Month for April - Harper Lee

When most people think of writers, a large body of work comes to mind, e.g., John Grisham, William Faulkner, or Ernest Hemingway.  In the case of Harper Lee, one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, earned her not only a Pulitzer Prize, but resulted in an Academy Award winning movie of the same name. Theaters everywhere continue to perform the play, as its story is as compelling today as it was in 1960, when the book was published.

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in the town of Monroeville, Alabama.

As her surname suggests, she is a descendant of Robert E. Lee. Her father was a local newspaper editor, who had also been a state senator and attorney in Monroeville. After transferring from the all-female school Huntington College in Montgomery, Harper Lee studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945-1949.  While at the University of Alabama, she wrote for and eventually became editor of the Rammer Jammer, the school's newspaper and humor magazine.

Realizing that writing, not the law, was her true calling, she then went to Oxford University as an exchange student.  After a few months she decided to pursue a literary career and moved to New York City at the age of 23. While there she worked as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines to make ends meet while she pursued her dream of being a writer.

Through the generosity of Broadway lyricist Martin Brown and his wife, Joy, Harper Lee quit her job to work full-time on her craft.  The Browns also secured a literary agent for her, Maurice Crain. Although the manuscript went through a couple of title changes, i.e., Go Set a Watchman, then Atticus, the final version of To Kill a Mockinbird was finished in 1959.

More to come.....

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1 comment:

  1. Social fabric is as valid through the eyes of children. ~bangchik