L is for Harper Lee

She will turn 86 at the end of this month.  Her only novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was published when she was 34 years old.

She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, but had this to say about her fame in 1964:

“I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”

Although “Mockingbird” was a huge success, Lee did not continue her career as a writer.  I always wondered why.  I didn’t consider myself a writer until I left my full-time job and decided to just write.  But a writer writes.  So I don’t believe Harper Lee ever stopped writing.  She just didn’t publish another book.  She has been always a very private person and doesn’t make a habit of speaking.  It’s ironic, I suppose, because writers today, even those introverted writers, must get out in front of their work and sell both their books and themselves.

On the film’s 50th anniversary, you can watch a clip of the great Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch here:

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