Sunday, July 11, 2010

Town Celebrates as “Mockingbird” Turns 50

Harper Lee’s only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published on this day 50 years ago. Lee herself avoids contact with the press and discussion of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that made--and some say ended--her career. However, the people of Monroeville, Alabama, the writer’s childhood hometown, are less camera shy.

Despite the fact that Lee maintains that her book and its setting are entirely fictional, Monroeville has been celebrating its Mockingbird connection for decades and, on this special anniversary, thousands of people are expected to visit. According to NPR, “It’s welcome attention for a small town struggling through the recession.”
Lee doesn’t give interviews anymore, but there are a lot of parallels between her childhood and the book that became one of the most influential works of American literature. She and her main character, Scout, both had fathers who were lawyers. They both had a mysterious neighbor feared by local kids.

While Monroeville isn't the town in the book, it's as close as visitors will ever get.

Much has changed since Lee grew up; her childhood home was razed, and down the road there's a Walmart and McDonald's. But there are still a lot of well-preserved brick buildings from the
'20s, and the mighty courthouse in the middle of town square has been turned into a To Kill a Mockingbird museum.
The full NPR report can be found here.

READ MORE:Do the Right Thing: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Art Taylor (Mystery Scene); “Why To Kill a Mockingbird Still Speaks to Me,” by Michel Martin (National Public Radio); “The Jury Has Reached a Verdict,” by J. Kingston Pierce (The Rap Sheet).

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