Harper Lee

Writer

Born: 28 April 1926
Birthplace: Monroeville, Alabama
Best known as: The author of To Kill a Mockingbird

Name at birth: Nelle Harper Lee

Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic of American literature and a bestselling novel since 1960. She grew up in the small southern town of Monroeville, Alabama, next door to young Truman Capote, on whom she based the book's character Dill. She studied for a law career, but in 1950 headed to New York to embark on a life of writing. Beginning in 1959 she worked with Capote on his book In Cold Blood (published in 19666) After several revisions her novel of growing up amid social tensions in the American south was published in 1960 to great acclaim and robust sales. It won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into a successful 1962 film starring Gregory Peck as the father, Atticus Finch. By the end of the 1960s Lee was dubbed "reclusive" for shunning media attention, and she remains famous for minding her own business. Although she has published short pieces in magazines since Mockingbird, Lee has never published another novel.

Extra credit: Over the years a rumor spread that Truman Capote was the true author of Lee's novel -- or that he edited it for her. Most scholars consider the rumor to be unfounded.

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