First of all "Miss" Maudie Atkinson is not a spinster, like some of the other "Misses" that appear in To Kill a Mockingbird. (The children call her "Miss," as they do some of the other women, as a sign of old-fashioned respect.) Maudie is a widow, like Atticus, and the daughter of Dr. Frank Buford, whose "profession was medicine." Dr. Buford was a neighboring landowner, and Maudie Buford had grown up near Finch's Landing before moving to Maycomb. (Little, if nothing, else is mentioned about her husband, Mr. Atkinson, or the circumstances of his absence.) She inherited her love of flowers and gardening from her father, whose
obsession was anything that grew in the ground, so he stayed poor.
Maudie had known Atticus and brother Jack Finch for at least four decades, and Jack had jokingly been asking Maudie to marry him for many years.
Maudie lives across the street from the Finches and serves as a mentor and confidante to the children, especially Scout, who
had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. She had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was not at all interested in our private lives. She was our friend.
She is a true and loyal friend to Atticus as well, and she supports him and his legal decision to take on the case of Tom Robinson. She explains to the children that Atticus is no ordinary man, but one who the entire town counts upon.
"... there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them...
"We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us."