7 Things you never knew about To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee

7 Things you never knew about To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” became one of the most beloved books in US literary history. Here are seven facts about Lee, who died at the age of 89 on February 19, 2016

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Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016).
Photo: Associated Press
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird became one of the most beloved books in US literary history. Here are seven facts about Lee, who died at the age of 89 on February 19, 2016.
  •  She went by Harper, her middle name, because she was afraid her first name, Nelle, would be mispronounced as "Nellie," not "Nell."
  • Lee based the To Kill a Mockingbird character Dill on childhood friend Truman Capote, who in turn used her as the basis for a character in his Other Voices, Other Rooms.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year. Conrad Richter's The Waters of Kronos  beat Mockingbird for the National Book Award.
  • Lee’s fans were stunned to learn 55 years after publication of the novel of a long-stashed manuscript written before To Kill a Mockingbird and even more stunned that Atticus, the hero of the first book, was portrayed as a segregationist in Go Set a Watchman. Atticus was based on Lee’s father.
  • Lee and actor Gregory Peck became friends during the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird. She remained close to his family and Peck’s grandson, Harper Peck Voll, is named for her.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird created a cottage industry in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, with a museum dedicated to it, although Lee filed a lawsuit claiming it was selling unlicensed merchandise, such as To Kill a Mockingbird beverage coasters.
  • Actresses Sandra Bullock (Infamous in 2006) and Catherine Keener (Capote in 2005) portrayed Lee in movies about the writing of Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”

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