Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Media Adaptations

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted as a film by Horton Foote, starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham, Universal, 1962; available from MCA / Universal Home Video.
  • It was also adapted as a full-length stage play by Christopher Sergei, and was published as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: A Full-length Play, Dramatic Publishing Co., 1970.

For Further Reference

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Buelle, Edwin. "Keen Scalpel on Racial Ills." English Journal 53 (1964): 658- 661. Discusses racial themes in Lee's novel and in Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country.

Erisman, Fred. "Literature and Place: Varieties of Regional Experience." Journal of Regional Cultures 1 (Fall/Winter 1981): 144-153. Discusses Harper Lee, Robert Perm Warren, and Sarah Orne Jewett as examples of writers who use regionalism in literature.

"The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee." Alabama Review 26 (1973): 122-136. Discusses Lee's work in relation to southern romanticism.

Going, William T. Essays on Alabama Literature. University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1975. Discusses To Kill a Mockingbird as a reflection of Alabama history and culture.

Kibler, James E., ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol 6, American Novelists Since World War II. Second Series. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. Discusses Lee's life and writing, briefly analyzes her novel, and summarizes its critical reception.

Newquist, Roy. "Interview with Harper Lee." In Counterpoint. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964. In this interview, Lee reveals much about her opinions and aspirations, her experience as a writer, and her feelings about the film version of her novel.

Visser, N. W. "Temporal Vantage Point in the Novel." Journal of Narrative Technique 7 (1977): 81-93. Discusses Lee's novel along with many others to show ways time is used and conveyed by novelists.

Wakeman, John, ed. World Authors, 1950-1970. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1975. An excellent brief article on Lee's life and book.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources Adams, Phoebe. Review in Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 206, August 26, 1960, pp. 98-99.

Dave, R. A. "To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee's Tragic Vision." In Indian Studies in American Fiction, edited by M. K. Naik, S. K. Desai, Punekar S. Mokashi, and M. Jayalakshammanni. Karnatak University Press, 1974, pp 311-23.

Ensman, Fred. "The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee." In The Alabama Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, April, 1973, pp. 122-36.

Ford, Nick Aaron. Review in PHYLON, Vol. XXII, Second Quarter (June), 1961, p 122.

Going, William T. "Store and Mockingbird: Two Pulitzer Novels about Alabama." In his Essays on Alabama Literature. The University of Alabama Press, 1975, pp. 9-31.

Hicks, Granville. "Three at the Outset." In Saturday Review, Vol. XLIII, No. 30, July 23, 1960, pp. 15-16.

LeMay, Harding. "Children Play; Adults Betray." In New York Herald Tribune Book Review, July 10, 1960, p. 5.

Sullivan, Richard. "Engrossing First Novel of Rare Excellence." In Chicago Sunday Tribune, July 17, 1960, p. 1.

Waterhouse, Keith. Review in New Statesman, October 15, 1960, p. 580.

For Further Reading Bruell, Edwin. "Keen Scalpel on Racial Ills." In The English Journal, Vol. 53, December, 1964, pp. 658-61. An article that touches on Lee's "warm" portrayal of Scout and the ironic tone in Lee's treatment of the bigoted.

Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding 'To Kill a Mockingbird': A Student Casebook to Issues,...

(This entire section contains 351 words.)

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Sources, and Historic Documents. Greenwood Press, 1994. Johnson's book is the most thorough analysis of the novel to date. She discusses the literary and historical context of the book, then analyzes its form, its connections to Gothic tradition, its treatment of prejudicial and legal boundaries, and its focus on communication. Johnson provides a large collection of sources relating to the novel, including documents about the "Scottsboro Boys" trials, the Civil Rights Movement, issues of stereotyping, the debates over Atticus in legal circles, and the censorship of the novel.

Lyell, Frank H. "One-Taxi Town." In The New York Book Review, July 10, 1960, pp. 5, 18. Lyell praises Lee for her characterization and provides some limited criticism of her style.

Schuster, Edgar H. "Discovering Theme and Structure in the Novel." In The English Journal, Vol. 52, 1963, pp 506-11. Schuster presents a practical classroom approach to the novel and an analysis of its themes and structure.


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Altman, Dorothy Jewell. Harper Lee. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. A concise examination of the novel’s themes and symbolism. Treats the work as a regional novel with a universal message.

Beidler, Philip D. “Introduction: Alabama Flowering II.” In The Art of Fiction in the Heart of Dixie: An Anthology of Alabama Writers, edited by Philip D. Beidler. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1986.

Betts, Doris. Introduction to Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990.

Dave, R. A. “To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s Tragic Vision.” In Indian Studies in American Literature, edited by M. K. Naik et al. Dharwar, India: Karnatak University, 1974. Dave provides an interesting discussion of the history of the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence and joy in American literature. He draws parallels between To Kill a Mockingbird and Walt Whitman’s poem “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” Dave also explores how Lee, like Jane Austen, evokes a regional place yet makes it a macrocosm describing a range of human behavior.

Erisman, Fred. “The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee.” Alabama Review 26 (April, 1973): 122-136. Examines Maycomb as a microcosm of the South, having within itself the potential to move from reliance on tradition to reliance on principle and to join the larger world without loss of regional identity.

Going, William T. “Store and Mockingbird: Two Pulitzer Novels About Alabama.” In Essays on Alabama Literature. University: University of Alabama Press, 1975. Contains a good discussion on Lee’s use of point of view to relate the story’s themes in a fresh manner. Going also discusses Lee’s ties to the other new Southern writers who emerged in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Johnson, Claudia. “Secret Courts of Men’s Hearts: Code and Law in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.” Studies in Fiction 19, no. 2 (1991): 129-139. Johnson gives an excellent overview of the history of racial conflicts in Alabama during the 1930’s, when the novel is set, and conflicts in the late 1950’s, when the novel was being written, that Harper Lee drew upon for the trial of Tom Robinson.

Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding “To Kill a Mockingbird”: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Offers literary analysis, historical context, critical studies, and discussion of censorship issues.

Rubin, Louis D., Jr., ed. The History of Southern Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. A brief history of Harper Lee’s place among the new Southern writers such as Capote, Welty, Styron, and McCullers. Rubin discusses how the new writers reflect on the past yet look toward the future, explore the plight of the Black man in the South, and focus on portrayals of the new type of Southerner—the liberal who is in conflict with his or her environment because of an awareness of racism.

Schuster, Edgar H. “Discovering Theme and Structure in the Novel.” English Journal 52 (October, 1963): 506-511. Deals with the elements of theme and structure in To Kill a Mockingbird, identifying and illustrating five thematic motifs.


Historical and Social Context