- Nelle Harper Lee was born in 1926, in Monoroeville, Alabama.
- In 1956, the composer Michael Martin Brown founded Lee for a year, so that she could write full time.
- In 1957 she finished her draft of "Go set a watchman".
- In 1960 she published "To Kill a Mockingbird".
- In 1961 Lee won Pulitzer Prize.
- In November 2007, President George W. Bush honored Lee with the "Presidential Medal of Freedom".
- In 2015 she eventually published "Go set a watchman".
- She died in 2016, at the age of 89.
The story takes place in a small Alabama town, in 1930s and is told predominately from the point of view of six-to-nine years old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch. She's the daughter of Atticus Finch, a white lawyer hired to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. The plot is semi-autobiographical, but Lee maintains that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was intended to portray not her own childhood but rather a generic Souther town.
This is a book about growing up and the main protagonist, Scout Finch, learns four lessons during the novel
Put yourself in other people's shoes
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Don't kill mockingbirds
“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Keep fighting even if you know you'll lose
"It was time like these when i thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to war, was the bravest man who ever lived."
The world is very unfair
"Atticus had used every tool available to free man to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of man heart's Atticus has no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."
"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. [...] There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself."
The narrator is a child, so the style is basically informal. Differing use of language reveals difference in social class and education status. Rich white people talks to the African-American calling them "nigger", "darky" or "negro". All the characters use distinctive Southern dialect expression.
"He likes'em better'n he likes us, I reckon... He's got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun. Show you some of'em when we see'em.”
The key events in "To Kill a Mockingbird" are driven by the undercurrent of prejudice that runs through Maycomb. The victims of this prejudice are:
- Tom Robinson
- Mayella Ewell
- Boo Radley
A major lesson Scout and Jem learn over the course of the novel is that people cannot be written off as good or evil. Atticus understands and tries to teach them that, rather than being simply creatures of good or creatures of evil, most people have both good and bad qualities.
We follow Scout and Jem as they journey away from the world of childhood ignorance to come to terms with the adult realities that surround them.
"Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"