25 Things You Didn’t Know About Harper Lee and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
Novel facts about the Southern classic and its author.
Few books have been as widely read as To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 novel written by Harper Lee that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, and made Lee a household name. It’s one of the best-known novels set in the South, let alone in Alabama, and its pages, its film adaptation, and its author are surrounded by interesting stories. Learn more about the film with a few lesser-known facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird that you may not already know.
To Kill a Mockingbird was on the bestseller list for 88 weeks.
To Kill a Mockingbird still sells about a million copies a year.
The fictional Maycomb is based loosely on Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee’s hometown.
The character of Atticus Finch was inspired by Lee’s father, AC Lee.
The character of Dill is based on Truman Capote, Lee’s Monroeville neighbor and friend for decades.
To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages.
To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
The PBS Great American Read named the novel “America's Favorite Book” in 2018.
Playwright Horton Foote wrote the screenplay for the film.
Robert Duvall appeared in the film as Boo Radley.
Lee and Gregory Peck, who portrayed Atticus Finch, remained friends long after filming ended.
Lee gave Peck her father’s pocket watch, which he reportedly carried with him to the Academy Awards.
Gregory Peck’s grandson is named “Harper” after Harper Lee.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three: Best Actor for Gregory Peck; Best Art Direction/Set Decoration; and Best Writing, Screenplay.
Lee’s full name is Nelle Harper Lee, and she went by Nelle for much of her life.
Lee attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, and then the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she studied law but did not graduate.
Before writing her debut novel, Lee worked as an airline reservation agent in New York City.
Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird while living in New York City.
Friends gave Lee a monetary gift that allowed her to quit her job and dedicate her days to writing.
Lee shunned the spotlight after her debut novel made such a splash.
Lee refused to write an introduction for later editions of To Kill a Mockingbird and instead preferred to allow the work to speak for itself.
During the latter part of her life, she worked on an abandoned true-crime novel based on an Alabama trial.
Lee received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 and the National Medal of Arts in 2010.
Lee published Go Set a Watchman, the manuscript of which she wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird, to much controversy in 2015.
Harper Lee passed away on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89.
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What interesting facts about To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee surprised you? Is Mockingbird one of your favorite Southern books?