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Author Harper Lee has always remained remarkably tight-lipped concerning her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. She has refused interviews on the subject for a half-century, and readers and historians can only guess about the true background of her plot and plot. We do know that Dill was based on her childhood friend Truman Capote, who spent summers in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Lee spent some time assisting Capote during his own groundsbreaking novel, In Cold Blood, and Capote remembers a quirky outcast who lived in Monroeville that probably inspired the character of Boo Radley. Lee's father, who inspired the Atticus Finch character, was also a lawyer and local legislator, and he may have been involved in some Civil Rights cases during his own life. Lee must have known about the famed Civil Rights case involving the black teenager Emmett Till who, in 1955, was murdered by white men for allegedly harrassing a white woman--a case similar to that of Tom Robinson. Additionally, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, "The same year that Lee won a contract for the unfinished manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird."
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