American Literature
American Authors

Harper Lee (1926-)

Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926. She attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama for a year and transferred to the University of Alabama to study law. She did not complete her law degree. After college, she moved to New York City and worked as an airline reservation clerk until 1958. She worked on what would later become To Kill a Mockingbird during her time in New York and in 1957 she submitted a manuscript to the J. B. Lippincott Company. 

Told that the manuscript read more like a series of short stories, Lee worked with an editor for the next two years on the book. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and was an immediate hit. It received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. To Kill a Mockingbird was made into a film in 1962. The film received three Academy Awards including a Best Actor Oscar for Gregory Peck for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. In 2003 The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch as the greatest movie hero of the 20th Century.

Lee has written little since To Kill a Mockingbird and has granted few interviews.

Key: profile Articles Photos Images Video Video Audio Audio


Big Read NH profile
See what is going on across the state!

NEA Big Read profile
Biography of the author as well as resources for the novel from the National Endowment for the Arts.

New Hampshire Public Radio Word of Mouth Audio
Word of Mout devoted an entire show to Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. You can listen to the show here!

Encyclopedia of Alabama profile
Biography of the author.

Books and Writers profile
Biography of the author.

Mr. Lettiere's English on the Web profile
9th grade English teacher Mr. Lettiere of Argo Community High School in Summit, Illinois has identified and created a number of resources for teaching To Kill a Mockingbird in the classroom. He identifies websites, poems, songs, and more that can be used with the novel.

Time Magazine profile
1960 review of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Time Magazine Top Ten Reclusive Celebrities Photos
Harper Lee comes in at number four, see who else in on the list in this 2009 photo interactive from Time Magazine.

NY Times profile
Articles and reviews from the NY Times on Harper Lee and her work.

The Courthouse Ring: Atticus Finch and the Limits of Southern Liberalism profile
2009 article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell.

NPR Audio
Story about the author's 2007 appearance at an awards ceremony for winners of a high school essay contest on To Kill a Mockingbird.

'Mockingbird' Sparks Controversy Audio
Story on NPR from 2001 about controversy surrounds the novel and its removal from the required reading list at Muskogee High School in Oklahoma.

Christian Science Monitor profile
2006 article about the reclusive author.

Ten Best Trial Movies profile
Reprint of a 1989 article from the ABA Journal.



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NH Authors

Online Video

In Search of the Novel profileVideo
Discover creative strategies for effectively teaching novels to middle and high school students with this eight-part workshop series. The series, which covers 10 novels including Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Each program weaves together a variety of elements, including examples of teacher/student classroom activities; interviews with contemporary novelists, literary critics, teachers, and students; and film clips from adaptations of novels. Other featured novels include: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko; Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling; Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison; and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Atticus Finch delivers his Closing Argument at the Trial of Tom Robinson Video
Video, audio, and transcript from American Rhetoric.

To Kill a Mockingbird Audio Documentary Audio
This audio only documentary from the National Endowment for the Arts features well-known writers, actors, and critics and an in-depth look at the novel.

AFI 10 Top 10 Video
You can view the trailer for the movie along with comments on the film from James Woods, Nathan Lane and other actors.

Lesson Plans

To Kill a Mockingbird:
A Historical Perspective

In this unit from the Library of Congress, students use primary source materials to learn more about the Depression Era in the 1930s with a focus on the South and the African American experience.

To Kill A Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Boys Trial: Profiles in Courage
In this lesson from EdSiteMent, students compare the Scottsboro Boys Trial and the events in To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill A Mockingbird : Parallels to Jim Crow America
This integrated unit of study looks at the novel in the contest of the historical period.

Spend the Day in My Shoes: Exploring the Role of Perspective in Narrative
This lesson plan from ReadWriteThink uses the quote " "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" as a springboard to a writing activity.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Student Survival Guide
This site for students from Nancy Louise Rutherford, a teacher at Belmont High School in Los Angeles includes a chapter-by-chapter guide for students.

Film Study Guide for To Kill A Mockingbird:
Seeing the Film through the Lens of Media Literacy

Mapping the Mockingbird
Students create a map of Maycomb.

Maycomb News Today
Students create a newspaper based on events in the novel.

Mob's Voice vs. Hero's Voice
Students analyze and discuss the different perspectives of Atticus Finch and the lynch mob