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In the rare interviews that Nelle Harper Lee has given concerning To Kill a Mockingbird, she has alway claimed that her story was not autobiographical. Nevertheless, most critics would disagree. Born in 1926, Lee is only slightly older than Scout, the character with so many similarities to the author. Lee grew up in Monroeville, Alabama--a small, Southern Alabama town so like the fictitious Maycomb. Her father, Amasa Lee, was a lawyer and a member of the Alabama legislature during the 1930s, as was Atticus. Lee's mother, Frances, was born with the maiden name of Finch. Lee was known in her youth as "a rough 'n' tough tomboy" who loved to read, just like Scout. Before becoming a writer, Lee attended law school at the University of Alabama--Atticus's alma mater--but dropped out just six months shy of graduating. Scout, too, had thoughts of following in her father's footsteps before telling her story in TKAM. Lee's best friend as a child was Truman Persons, who came to visit in Monroeville each summer and lived next door to the Lees. Persons later changed his name to Capote and became a world-renowned author. The character of Dill, the small and imaginative storyteller, is based on the diminutive Capote.
Harper Lee was a tomboy, similar to Scout. In fact, many initial readers believed that the book was written by a man, and thus became more popular.
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