Harper Lee (1926-2016) was the author of To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), one of the most popular US novels of all time, and required reading in many schools nationwide. Read about the life and work of Harper Lee here: britannica.com/biography/Harper-Lee.
An excellent video, posted on YouTube, was created by a high school English teacher who uses Google Earth to make connections between the fictional town of Maycomb and the author’s hometown. Watch it as you plan your visit to the town at https://www.monroecountymuseum.org. Monroeville has had large growth since Harper Lee’s childhood, though it is still a relatively small town.
Harper Lee personally approved Horton Foote to write the screenplay for the film based on her famous Pulitzer Prize-winning book. His screenplay was a faithful adaptation of the story and won an Academy Award against the formidable competition of Lawrence of Arabia, The Miracle Worker and Lolita in 1963. The Award was presented by legendary actress Bette Davis. (See Texas for more on Horton Foote.)
Books Connected to To Kill A Mockingbird
In recent years, the literary world buzzed about Harper Lee’s second novel, which was published after a lifetime of her rejecting the idea of publishing more books after To Kill a Mockingbird. The book, Go Set a Watchman is described here: nytimes.com. (Miss Lee passed away within the year her second novel was published.)
A possible third novel published posthumously was thought to be under consideration (theguardian.com), but did not come to be (latimes.com). A graphic novel of To Kill a Mockingbird was released in November 2018. A children’s mystery novel based on the childhood friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote was published in 2016. You can read about Tru and Nelle at gregneri.com.
A Teacher’s Testimony
One of our readers, a high school English teacher, reported that she scheduled an appointment to visit Harper Lee where the author resided near the end of her life but Harper Lee did not feel well enough to attend. The fact, however, that one of the most major US authors in history was willing to meet with a teacher with whom she had no prior connection still impressed the teacher about the author’s character.
On Truman Capote
Truman Capote was a childhood and longtime friend of Harper Lee in Monroeville. His best known work is the crime novel In Cold Blood, which was made into a movie starring Robert Blake in 1967. There is now a marker where Truman Capote’s home once stood. The local museum has dedicated an exhibit to preserve the memory of his life and work. Read about it here: https://www.monroecountymuseum.org/capote.
“The exhibit focuses on Capote’s childhood in Monroeville, spent with his Faulk cousins, and how these early years are reflected in some of his most popular writings. The exhibit weaves photos, letters and memorabilia together to paint a fascinating portrait of Capote’s early life in Monroeville.”
Several articles about Truman Capote can be found here: https://deepsouthmag.com/tag/capote-50/.
Alabama Southern Community College features a portrait and an outdoor fountain dedicated to Truman Capote and nine other writers from the area.
Read about a Truman Capote literary stop in Louisiana here: Hotel Monteleone.
Monroeville is the third stop on our Alabama Author Adventures Trail.