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: