Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has been hailed as one of the greatest novels in literature. Published in 1960, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was adapted into the 1962 Oscar-winning film of the same name, starring the late, great Gregory Peck.
The controversial book is much-loved across the world, yet many of us know little about it. The List Love is therefore offering 10 To Kill a Mockingbird Facts you should read.
1. The Inspiration
The novel’s characters and plot are loosely based on Harper Lee’s observations of both her family and neighbours, as well as a event that occurred in her hometown in 1936 when the author was just 10 years old. Scout could therefore easily be a young Harper Lee.
Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee, also inspired Scout’s father, Atticus Finch. Amasa defended two black men who had been charged with murder in 1919; however, he abandoned criminal law when he lost the case and the defendants were convicted, hanged and mutilated.
To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the very core of humanity. It comments on the prejudices many people shared about class, gender and, most of all, race. There are many racial slurs and honest discussions of rape throughout the novel, which has resulted in many campaigns to see the removal of the book from classrooms in the USA.
Many people believe the real author behind To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee’s friend, Truman Capote, who wrote the famous novels In Cold Blood (1966) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958). Some have also stated that if he did not write the book, he at least heavily edited the novel. However, both Lee and her editor have refuted the claims, with Lee’s sister, Alice, stating the rumour is: “the biggest lie ever told”.
The character of Dill was inspired by Lee’s childhood friend and neighbour, Truman Capote. Harper Lee has since downplayed the autobiographical parallels in the novel, whilst Truman Capote has confirmed the character of Boo Radley was very much inspired by a man that lived in their neighbourhood, as he said: “He was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us. We used to go and get those things out of the trees. Everything she wrote about is absolutely true”.
5. Digital Copies
Harper Lee refused electronic publication of To Kill a Mockingbird for many years, making headlines with her fight to protect her intellectual property. However, on 28th April 2014, on the author’s 88th birthday, chose to release the novel electronically, stating: “I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. This is Mockingbird for a new generation”. The e-book and digital audio versions of the book were finally released on 8th July, 2014.
6. The Novel Rights
Harper Lee once sued the son-in-law of her former literary agent in 2013, as she believed she was duped into signing over the rights to her novel, when her eyesight and hearing were in decline. She also once sued her hometown of Monroe County Heritage Museum for trademark infringement, as they illegally used her fame for the county’s own gain.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird Sales
According to publisher HarperCollins, To Kill a Mockingbird has sold over 30 million copies in English worldwide – and it continues to sell one million copies every year! The novel has also been translated into over 40 languages.
8. Go Set a Watchman
The follow-up novel, Go Set a Watchman, is set to be published on 14th July 2015 by HarperCollins, 55 years after the release of To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel was written before Mockingbird in the mid-1950s. The manuscript was thought to have been lost forever until it was rediscovered by her lawyer in 201, and so will be published in its original format, with no revisions.
The publication has surprised the literary world as the novelist had previously stated she would not write or release another novel. The move has been criticised by some who believe the author may have been taken advantage of due to declining health and the death of her sister just two months prior to the announcement. Harper Lee will not partake in a book tour or publicity, as she now lives in assisted living in Monroeville, Alabama, USA. Some publications are calling on the boycott of the book.
9. The Movie Adaptation
Harper Lee approved of the To Kill a Mockingbird movie adaptation, describing it as “one of the best translations of a book to film ever made”. She loved the movie so much that she became good friends with Gregory Peck and still remains close with the legendary actor’s family. In fact, Gregory’s grandson, Harper Peck Voll, is named after the author.
10. The Long Goodbye
Believing Go Set a Watchman was gone forever, Harper Lee wrote another follow-up book called The Long Goodbye, but filed it away as unfinished.
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