LifeTimeline

Harper Lee

    • APR 28

      Born

    1926
    • Off to Tuscaloosa

    1945
    • Alabama to New York

    1949
    • NOV

      The Writing Pays Off

    • DEC

      Guardian Angels

    1956
    • A Sale!

    • Another Guardian Angel

    1957
    • JUL 11

      Publication!

    1960
    • To The Movies

    1962
    • Lee's Only Recorded Interview About To Kill A Mockingbird

    1964
    • Discovery

    2014
  • Born

    Monroeville, Alabama
    Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926, the youngest of four children. One of Lee's playmates was a little boy named Truman Persons who would also grow up to be a writer. (Both Truman and Nelle had different pen names; Nelle became Harper while Truman kept his first name but changed his last to Capote). Capote, in fact, is the model for Dill in To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee herself was a tomboy just like her creation, Scout.
    By Robert Waldman
  • Off to Tuscaloosa

    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Lee's father, Amasa was a former newspaper editor who became a respected attorney(and the model for Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird). Following in her father's footsteps, Lee studied law at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and wrote for the school newspaper.
    By Robert Waldman
  • Alabama to New York

    New York, New York
    Lee moved to New York, and found work as an reservation agent for Eastern Airlines while writing fiction on the side.
    By Robert Waldman
  • The Writing Pays Off

    New York, New York
    After writing several long stories, Lee found an agent will to represent her. But she doesn't give up her day job...yet.
    By Robert Waldman
  • Source: Lee

    Guardian Angels

    New York , New York
    Through her friend Truman Capote, Lee met composer and lyricist, Michael Brown and his wife, Joy. For Christmas 1956, the Browns gave Lee the gift of a year's salary with a note: "You have one year off to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas."
    By Robert Waldman
  • A Sale!

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Lee delivered a manuscript called Go Set A Watchman to her agent to shop around to publishers. The now defunct J.B. Lippincott bought it.
    By Robert Waldman
  • Source: Lee

    Another Guardian Angel

    New York, New York
    At Lippincott, Lee's manuscript caught the attention of editor Tay Hohoff. "The spark of the true writer flashed in every line," recalled Hohoff. But there was a long way to go before it would be ready for publication. As Hohoff described Lee's manuscript, it was "more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel."

    "After a couple of false starts," continued Hohoff, "the story-line, interplay of characters...grew clearer, and with each revision--there were many minor changes as the story grew in strength, and in her own vision of it--the true stature of the novel became evident."

    "I was a first time writer," said Lee in a 2015 statement, "so I did what I was told."

    But not always. "When she disagreed with a suggestion," remembered Hohoff, "we talked it out, sometimes for hours. And sometimes she came around to my way of thinking, sometimes I to hers, sometimes the discussion would open up an entirely new line of country."





    By Robert Waldman
  • Source: Lee/

    Publication!

    New York, New York
    Upon its publication, To Kill A Mockingbird became an immediate bestseller as well as critically acclaimed, earning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.
    By Robert Waldman
  • PDF
    2

    To The Movies

    Los Angeles, California
    In 1962, playwright Horton Foote adapted Lee's novel into an Academy-Award Winning Screenplay. Lee herself was pleased with the final result: "I think it's one of the best translations of a book to film ever made."


    Lee visited the set and became friends with the star, Gregory Peck. In this clip, Peck talks about Lee's visit on the first day of shooting.

    Please click on the picture icon lower right to view a PDF of the complete final draft of screenplay from February 8, 1962.
    Elizabeth Sams
    Very cool to see the actual screenplay. Thanks!
  • Lee's Only Recorded Interview About To Kill A Mockingbird

    New York, New York
    In 1964, Lee talked with WQXR host Roy Newquist for an interview in New York. For the first time, that interview is now available to listen to online. The interview is the only known recording of Lee discussing "To Kill a Mockingbird," among other topics, and one of the last interviews she would ever give.
    By Robert Waldman
  • Discovery

    United States
    In 2014, Lee's attorney, Tonja Carter, examined Lee's safe-deposit box and discovered the long thought to be lost manuscript for Go Set A Watchman, the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird.

    A year later, in July 2015, Harper Collins controversially published Go Set A Watchman, marketing it as a new book despite the fact that many passages exist that are word for word identical to To Kill A Mockingbird.

    Please click on video to view "Beyond To Kill A Mockingbird: The Lost Novel of Harper Lee."

    By Robert Waldman