HARPER LEE

harperlee

(1926 - 2016)

Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville in Alabama on April 28th, 1926. Lee was raised with two sisters, Alice and Louise, and a brother, Edwin Coleman Lee. Her brother died of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage in 1951. Her father, Amasa Lee grew up in Florida and came to Monroe County in the early 1900s. He worked as a bookkeeper until 1915, when he passed the bar and began practicing law. Mr. Lee also served on the Alabama State Legislature from 1926 to 1938, and as editor of The Monroe Journal from 1929 to 1947. Miss Finch met Mr. Lee while he was working at the Flat Creek Mill Company in Finchburg; they married in 1912. The couple lived briefly in Florida, returning to live in Monroe County in 1913. Harper Lee is friendly and gregarious with those she knows, but has always been an extremely private person, disclosing little about her life to the public. In 1944, at the age of 18, Harper Lee enrolled in Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. From 1945 to 1949 she studied law at the University of Alabama. She transferred to Oxford University in England as an exchange student for a year, but six months before completing her studies, Lee decided to go to New York to be a writer. Lee worked briefly in the early 1950s as a reservations clerk for Eastern Airlines and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp.) in New York City. In 1957, she submitted a manuscript to the J. B. Lippincott Company, who felt that her attempt at a novel was actually more of a series of strung-together short stories. The publisher recommended a rewrite, so Lee spent the next two-and-a-half years working on the manuscript. Her efforts paid off, and To Kill a Mockingbird, her first and only novel, was published in 1960. In the early 1960s, Harper Lee accompanied her childhood friend Truman Capote to Holcomb, Kansas, and served as a research assistant for Capote's 1966 novel, In Cold Blood. Never married, Lee continues to divide her time between New York and Monroeville, Alabama where she lives with her sister Alice.  Lee died in her sleep of a stroke on the morning of February 19th, 2016, aged 89.

My selection:

To Kill A Mocking Bird : (Ne Tirez pas Sur L'oiseau Moqueur) 1960

The story takes place during three years (1933–35) of the Great Depression in the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb, Alabama, the seat of Maycomb County. It focuses on six-year-old Jean Louise Finch (Scout), who lives with her older brother, Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill, who visits Maycomb to stay with his aunt each summer. The three children are terrified of, and fascinated by, their neighbor, the reclusive Arthur "Boo" Radley. The adults of Maycomb are hesitant to talk about Boo, and, for many years few have seen him. The children feed one another's imagination with rumours about his appearance and the fact that he is hidden, and they fantasize about how to get him out of his house. After two summers of friendship with Dill, Scout and Jem find that someone leaves them small gifts in a tree outside the Radley place. Several times the mysterious Boo makes gestures of affection to the children, but, to their disappointment, he never appears in person. Judge Taylor appoints Atticus to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Although many of Maycomb's citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees to defend Tom to the best of his ability. Other children taunt Jem and Scout for Atticus's actions, calling him a "nigger-lover". Scout is tempted to stand up for her father's honor by fighting, even though he has told her not to. Atticus faces a group of men intent on lynching Tom. This danger is averted when Scout, Jem, and Dill shame the mob into dispersing by forcing them to view the situation from Atticus' and Tom's points of view. Atticus does not want Jem and Scout to be present at Tom Robinson's trial. No seat is available on the main floor, so by invitation of Rev. Sykes, Jem, Scout, and Dill watch from the colored balcony. Atticus establishes that the accusers—Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, the town drunk—are lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella made sexual advances toward Tom, and that her father caught her and beat her. Despite significant evidence of Tom's innocence, the jury convicts him. Jem's faith in justice becomes badly shaken, as is Atticus', when the hapless Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison. Despite Tom's conviction, Bob Ewell is humiliated by the events of the trial, Atticus explaining that he "destroyed [Ewell's] last shred of credibility at that trial."[12] Ewell vows revenge, spitting in Atticus' face, trying to break into the judge's house, and menacing Tom Robinson's widow. Finally, he attacks the defenseless Jem and Scout while they walk home on a dark night after the school Halloween pageant. One of Jem's arms is broken in the struggle, but amid the confusion someone comes to the children's rescue. The mysterious man carries Jem home, where Scout realizes that he is Boo Radley. Sheriff Tate arrives and discovers that Bob Ewell has died during the fight. The sheriff argues with Atticus about the prudence and ethics of charging Jem (whom Atticus believes to be responsible) or Boo (whom Tate believes to be responsible). Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff's story that Ewell simply fell on his own knife. Boo asks Scout to walk him home, and after she says goodbye to him at his front door he disappears again. While standing on the Radley porch, Scout imagines life from Boo's perspective, and regrets that they had never repaid him for the gifts he had given them.

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