To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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What inspired Harper Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In the famous classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee tells a story of racial injustice in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. Although Lee insisted that the novel was not strictly autobiographical, she drew inspiration for the setting, characters, and themes from many aspects that surrounded her as she was growing up.

The town of Maycomb, for instance, is based on the small Southern town of Monroeville, Alabama, in which she was raised. Her father, like Atticus Finch in the novel, was a lawyer who once attempted unsuccessfully to defend an African American man and his son who had been accused of having committed a murder. Lee also likely derived inspiration for the story from the notorious Scottsboro Boys case in which nine black teenagers were accused, with scant evidence, of having raped two white women. Atticus Finch became an idealized version of her father—in fact, before she finalized the name To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel was titled Atticus.

Like Scout in the novel, Lee was...

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