Mockingbird -- Biography of Harper Lee

Posted by Backyard Urban Gardening on Monday, December 17, 2007

I am half-way through Mockingbird, Charles Shields' biography about Nelle Harper Lee, author of America's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird". Shields' research provides an informative snapshot of the background and influences that impacted Harper Lee before, during, and after writing the Pulitzer prize winning novel that spawned the Oscar winning movie with Gregory Peck.

Published in 2006, the biography explores Lee's family background, educational background, relationship with Truman Capote, and offers insight into the "New York" years and the struggles Lee endured before her novel was published.

The book has lots of "behind the scenes" snippets that explain how a book is submitted to an agent, gets re-written, is edited, and is finally published. Shields' research also relates several actual events from Lee's family life and homestate of Alabama that influenced her while writing the novel that has sold 30 million copies to date.

I found it interesting that the name "Harper" was used instead of the author's given first name, Nelle, because she was afraid someone might incorrectly call her "Nellie". I also found it helpful to understand that an author of Lee's caliber struggled in the beginning and worked as a bookstore clerk and an airline ticket agent for two different airlines prior to publication.


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