to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Women and Adversity: Harper Lee, Author

From 30-50 million copies of Harper Lee’s 1960 blockbuster novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” have been sold, and it remains an American classic selling about 750,000 copies each year. She wasn’t an overnight success. She moved to New York from her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama in 1949 to pursue her dream to become a writer.

She epitomizes what writers are told to do: write what you know.

  • Macomb is patterned after her hometown
  • Unrest between blacks and whites
  • She was a tomboy like Scout
  • She had an older brother
  • Her father was a lawyer who defended two black men accused of murdering a white man, lost the case and the men were hanged
  • Her childhood friend was Truman Capote like Dill in the book
  • Her mother suffered from mental illness, reminiscent of the Radley family


Other facts:

  • Lee never married
  • was a recluse
  • refused to give interviews
  • never authorized a biography
  • sued her agent Samuel Pinkus, accusing him of stealing the copyright to her book
  • in 2015 her second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” was published


Lee had a stroke in 2007, suffered from macular degeneration, was deaf and confined to a wheelchair. Nelle (her grandmother’s name spelled backwards) Harper Lee died Feb. 19, 2016 at age 89.



fascinating facts:

Unauthorized biography: “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” by Charles J. Shields


Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

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