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Southern LiterBEARy Portraits
Nelle Harper Lee

Protrait by a student from Brookwood Forest Elementary School, Birmingham, Alabama

by Laura

I was born April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. I am the youngest of the four children of Amasa and Frances Lee. I have two sisters and one brother. I went to school at Huntingdon College and studies law at The University of Alabama. I also studied for a year at Oxford University in England.

My father, Amason Lee, is a respected lawyer in Monroeville. He plans for me to become a member of his law firm. It is believed that my father is the basis for the character, Atticus Finch in my famous book. My mother, Frances Lee, is from Virginia.

In the 1950's I worked for an airlines. In order to concentrate on my writing, I quit my job and moved to a rustic apartment in New York. In 1957 I submitted the manuscript of my famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird, to the publisher. I was told that this book consisted of a series of short stories strung together and was urged to re-write it. For the next two and one half years I worked on it. In 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was published.

To Kill a Mockingbird is about a father and his two children during the Great Depression. The children play and enjoy the simple fun that kids had in those days. Their father, Atticus Finch , is a lawyer who takes on the case of a black man accused of taking advantage of a white girl. Even though it looks as if the girl has lied to the court, the man is convicted and sent to prison by an all white jury.

To Kill a Mockingbird may have been based on a true story about The Scottsboro Case which began in 1931 during the Great Depression. The men in this case were convicted by all white juries and they were sentenced to death. The decision was reversed by The Supreme Court because the men did not get fair trials.For the next five years, the men were re-tried and convicted, with appeals several times even though one of the women now admitted she had lied. These Supreme Court cases helped the Civil Rights movement.

In 1961 the Alabama lawmakers passed a resolution to congratulate me on my success. The same year I published two other stores in Vogue and McCall's magazines. In 1966 I was named by President Johnson to the National Council of Arts.

I have received a number of honorary doctorates. I received one from The University of Alabama and from Spring Hill College.

Most of what I have done in the last several years is speculation. I play golf and there are rumors that I am writing memoirs. Some sources say I am writing a book about the infamous Reverend Maxwell of Alexander City. I am still alive today.

More information about Nelle Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, visit