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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How did Harper Lee's decision to move to New York impact To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird is written with the finesse and talent that suggest an author with extensive writing experience and many published works; however, author Harper Lee penned the first drafts of the novel after working for a period of time in New York as an airline reservation agent.

Lee moved to New York in 1949, with some college experience in writing but no degree, and she wrote fiction in her spare time when she was not working. She wrote a few long short stories and eventually found an agent. Living in New York likely greatly aided Lee in finding an agent, because the publishing world of New York was vastly different and more established than the Alabama town where Lee was raised.

Lee found an agent in November of 1956 and one month later received a year's wages as a gift from her friends with the stipulation that she have a year to herself as a writer, without the pressure of working with the airline. Because of this freedom, Lee was able to write and complete her first drafts for To Kill a Mockingbird and she eventually published it in 1960. The very next year the novel was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and it has been considered one of the best novels ever written in the decades since.

Were it not for her decision to travel to New York and begin writing in her spare time and seeking an agent, Lee might never have had the connections required to secure and agent and get her work published. She also would not have had the relationships with the friends who funded her year of writing. It is possible that without her journey to New York, Lee never would have written To Kill a Mockingbird.

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