Harper Lee

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Harper Lee (April 28, 1928 – February 19, 2016) is a Pulitzer prize winning American novelist, known for her major work To Kill a Mockingbird, which was first published in 1960. Lee is a native of Monroeville, Alabama, and much of her fiction is considered autobiographical in nature. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 by President George W. Bush.[1]


Lee's father was a local lawyer in small-town Alabama, who for some time served on the state legislature. Lee studied Law at the University of Alabama in the late 1940s, but did not graduate. She was employed as a reservation clerk until 1959, when her first novel was published.[2]

To Kill A Mockingbird

The novel is partly autobiographical. It deals with racial prejudice and class in the American south in the early 1930s. The book is set around a framework of historical events, with references to President Roosevelt and Hitler. In the Depression-era small southern town, a racially-charged trial takes place. The defendant, an African-American man is charged with the rape of a white woman. He is defended by Atticus Finch, an attorney with a strong moral center. The story is narrated by Finch's daughter, Scout, who is aged five when the story begins, eight when it ends. Lee endows her character with streetsmarts and simple honesty such that the story is pervaded by a sense of overwhelming authenticity.

Go Set a Watchman

This novel is the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, although Lee wrote it three years prior. It takes place 20 years later, and follows a now adult Scout Finch. The novel was released on July 14, 2015, 55 years after the release of To Kill a Mockingbird.


  1. President Bush Honors Medal of Freedom Recipients
  2. "... it was a debut novel written by a woman who’d been earning a living as a clerk for an airline company at the time she’d written it." -- Daniel Clay