Harper Lee Additional Biography


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Harper Lee is known for a single book. Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published when the author was thirty-four. It won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1961 and was made into a film for which Gregory Peck won an Academy Award for Best Actor. For decades, the novel has been considered a classic text in the study of prejudice. For years, Lee described herself as working on a second novel, but it did not appear. Perhaps Lee felt that in To Kill a Mockingbird she had explored so completely the problems of prejudice and identity that she could not better her effort.

Ironically, from the time of her birth Harper Lee had the best that such a society could offer. Her parents, Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee, were both members of old, highly respected Southern families. After settling in Monroeville, Alabama, Amasa Coleman Lee became a community leader, a state legislator, and a newspaper editor. As a practicing attorney, he was no stranger to controversy. Watching him from her vantage point in the courthouse balcony, Lee learned to think for herself and to stand up for what she believed.

Although she was a female member of a patriarchal society, Lee did not assume the role of wife and mother, like most girls of her generation, or become a lawyer, as her father intended. It was not Harper, but her sister Alice, who was to become their father’s law partner. Six months short of graduation, Harper Lee left law...

(The entire section is 429 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nelle Harper Lee’s contribution to literature has been limited in output. Yet with her one novel, Lee has accomplished more than many prolific writers have. To Kill a Mockingbird contains an astute and touching portrait of life in a small southern town during the 1930’s. For this novel Lee received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1961. In 1962 the novel was made into an Academy Award-winning film, with a screenplay by Horton Foote. In the same year the novel received Best Sellers’ Paperback of the Year award.

Lee was born in a small Alabama town to Frances Finch and Amasa Coleman Lee. Her father, who had a law practice in Monroeville, provided the role model for Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, while her mother provided the main characters’ surname of Finch. Lee’s family is related to the southern Civil War general Robert E. Lee.

Lee’s formal education included the public schools of Monroeville and a year at Huntington College. In 1945 she attended the University of Alabama; then she spent a year abroad at the University of Oxford. After her return to the United States, Lee continued at the University of Alabama, though she left in 1950, only six months short of obtaining a law degree. Upon leaving Alabama, Lee went to New York City, where she worked as an airlines reservation clerk. Lee had started writing at the age of seven, but it was only during her stint in New York City that she finally...

(The entire section is 573 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. The youngest child of Amasa C. and Frances Finch Lee, she attended...

(The entire section is 212 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Harper Lee Published by Gale Cengage

Although Harper Lee has long maintained that To Kill a Mockingbird is not autobiographical, critics...

(The entire section is 495 words.)