The Life and Writings of Harper Lee

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Nelle Harper Lee, the famous author of the worldwide bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird, was born April 28th, 1926, to Amasa Coleman (a lawyer) and Frances Lee. At the time, the family lived in Monroeville, Alabama. Harper’s family was somewhat wealthy, and they lived in upper middle class society most of their lives. Harper’s birth name, Nelle, was her grandmother’s spelled backwards (Ellen). However, in her publications, she took her middle name, Harper, to avoid being known as “Nellie”. But what numerous people have never heard - and many would be shocked to know - is that one windy, rainy night, Harper threw all her unpublished manuscripts of To Kill a Mockingbird out the window! Fortunately, she soon realized what she had done, and called over her editor, Tay Hohoff, to assist her. Hohoff sent her out in the snow and slush to retrieve her pages, which luckily had not fallen far away. But one would wonder: what would have happened if she had done the same on a slightly windier night? Harper Lee was the youngest of four children, a situation that often made her feel it was necessary to act out: “As a child, Harper Lee was an unruly tomboy. She fought on the playground. She talked back to teachers. She was bored with school and resisted any sort of conformity” (Stark). Her sister, Alice, who was fifteen years older, agreed with this description, admitting that Harper “isn’t much of a conformist” (Shields 2). In fact, Harper tried her best to be incongruous and not blend in with the other kids. She was often thought of as a social outcast to people who didn’t know her. Countless would agree that she often acted impetuously and without thought. She had not the restraint and self control as a child should, and often caused harm t... ... middle of paper ... ...ld… but the only thing that has made me completely happy” (Lee). Today, Harper Lee lives quietly in New York City, avoiding anything that has to do with her famous novel, though she is still active in her church and community. She uses humor to protect her privacy to deflect questions in articles, interviews and fan letters. Harper also hasn’t thrown anymore manuscripts out windows. And still, she writes on. Works Cited “Lee, Harper 1926-.” Concise Major 21 Century Writers. Ed. Tracey L. Matthews. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 2136-2140. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. Shields, Charles J. I Am Scout. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2008. Print. Stark, Elizabeth. “To Kill a Mockingbird: About the Author.” The Big Read. National Endowment for the Arts, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. .

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