July 9, 2013 |
Who would have predicted that, in her late 80s, Harper Lee would have to file suit to get the control of "To Kill a Mockingbird" returned to her? According to a lawsuit filed in May, Lee, in failing health, had been "duped" into assigning the copyright of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to her literary agent, a lawyer. That's no small thing: A half century after its publication, "To Kill a Mockingbird" still sells more than 750,000 copies a year. In one typical six-month period in 2009, its royalties amounted to more than $1.6 million.
April 2, 2012 |
They were Southern women who wrote novels about race, family and the destructive mores of their native land — so it makes sense that the "American Masters" documentaries about Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee would run back to back Monday night. It also makes sense that neither of these films would break the two-hour mark — "Margaret Mitchell: An American Rebel" is 55 minutes, "Harper Lee: Hey, Boo" is 90 minutes — because these women shared another characteristic: Each wrote just one book.
May 13, 2011 |
Many books and films have partisans who insist their works are loved and admired by the American people, but "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the real thing. The Harper Lee novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has sold nearly 50 million copies in the 50 years since its publication. And when the U.S. Postal Service recently issued a stamp honoring "Mockingbird" star Gregory Peck, it used a still from that Oscar-winning performance as its image. But what of Nelle Harper Lee, the young Southern writer from Monroeville, Ala., whose reaction to all this success, she said in a radio interview, was one of "sheer numbness, being hit over the head and knocked cold.
May 8, 2011 |
Harper Lee was working as an airline reservations agent in New York City, struggling to write a novel tentatively titled "Atticus," when a close friend gave her enough money to take time off and finish her book. Published in 1960 with an initial print run of just 5,000 copies, "To Kill a Mockingbird" became an instant phenomenon: a critically acclaimed bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner, followed by a multiple-Oscar-winning 1962 film featuring the iconic performance of Gregory Peck as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch.
July 11, 2010 |
In her last in-depth interview about writing, Harper Lee talked about her hometown, Monroeville, Ala., in 1964, telling Roy Newquist: We simply entertained each other by talking. It's quite a thing, if you've never been in or known a small Southern town. The people are not particularly sophisticated, naturally. They're not worldly wise in any way. But they tell you a story whenever they see you. We're oral types — we talk. Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," and Monroeville is still a place rich with stories and storytellers.
June 13, 2010 |
Scout, Atticus and Boo A Celebration of Fifty Years of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Mary McDonagh Murphy Harper: 240 pp., $24.99 What is it about "To Kill a Mockingbird"? Harper Lee's 1960 debut has sold 30 million copies, more than any other 20th century novel, and it continues to sell 1 million more each year. Yet despite having won the Pulitzer Prize and having assumed a place as one of our essential national books of fiction, it remains its author's only published novel.