Harper Lee’s Biography
Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Alabama, in a small town called Monroeville. She had three siblings, all of them older than her. Lee’s father was a lawyer and took a position in Alabama state legislature (Letchner, 2019). Besides, he also took part in preparing a local newspaper. Lee’s mother was mentally ill and did not leave the house often. Assumingly, the mother had bipolar disorder diagnosis, which is characterized by extreme swings of mood. During high school, Lee started to demonstrate interest in English literature. Having graduated from school, the girl entered Huntington college, where she concentrated on literature studies.
Lee was never fond of makeup or dates, behaving as a tomboy and paying all her attention to studies. After her transfer to Tuscaloosa University of Alabama, she continued to position herself as an individualist and a loner. She joined the student newspaper and became an editor of humor magazine. Besides, she entered the university law school, but soon realized that her true calling is writing, not law. She left the law school after the first semester and moved north, hoping to become a writer. In 23 years old, she moved to New York and started to work as a ticket agent. In New York, she befriended Michael Martin Brown, a composer, who gave her as a present an opportunity not to work for one year. Thus, for Lee it became an opportunity to devote herself to writing, and she started “To Kill a Mockingbird”. All in all, Lee has published two novels – “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”.
An important part of Lee’s biography is her friendship with Truman Capote. Lee was a tough girl, and she defended Capote from other boys. When the friends grew up, both of them became writers. Lee helped Capote with his novel, although he never accepted it, which became the reason of their quarrel. For the whole life, Lee was hiding from the fame that was brought to her by the Pulitzer Prize.
Connection between Lee’s Biography and “To Kill a Mockingbird”’s Plot
The novel has widely attracted people’s attention not only due to an interesting plot and good writing. Choinski et al. (2017) note that the other reason of success was the fact that the author’s life was interwoven in the story. In thirties, racism was flourishing in Alabama towns, and Lee reflected it in her book. Lee’s friendship with Truman Capote and relationships with her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, became the basis of the novel (Choinski et al., 2017). Her father’s personality is reflected in Atticus Finch, the father of the main character. He is trying to defend a black person called Tom Robinson, who is wrongly accused in raping a white woman. People of the town are trying to lynch Tom, but Scout is preventing it by calling one of them by their name.
First of all, the whole personality of Finch resembles Lee’s character, as long as she was a tomboy striving for justice. Scout’s friend, Dill, is the reflection of Lee’s friend Capote. Lee chose her father as a role model,since her mother was ill. Thus, some parallels make the novel semi-biographical, which attracted a wide attention of the audience and made it an illustration of American society of that period.
Rybicki, J., Eder, M., & Choinski, M. (2017). Harper Lee and Other People: A Stylometric Diagnosis. The Mississippi Quarterly, 70–71(3), 355.
Letchner, Z. J. (2019). To Kill a Mockingbird in historical perspective and current context: A review essay. Georgia Historical Quarterly, 103(2), 165–170.