(Nelle) Harper Lee 1926–
See also To Kill a Mockingbird Criticism.
American novelist. Lee's only work to date is her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. A descendent of Robert E. Lee, she was born and raised in a small town in Alabama. Her decision to attend law school is attributed to the strong influence of her lawyer-father, who later served as a model for the main character in her novel, Atticus Finch. Her study of law and its principles helped her develop a lucid prose style; her southern upbringing gave her the raw material which she incorporated into the novel. In a time of the burgeoning civil rights movement, her book was met with popular acclaim and was later adapted for film. Critics agree that it is a literary success, comparing her easy flowing prose style to that of Mark Twain. Her promise of a second novel has yet to be fulfilled. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 13-16, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 11.)
The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing, outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative [in To Kill a Mockingbird]. (p. 360)
Virginia Kirkus' Service, May 1, 1960.