|Born and raised in Alabama, (Nelle) Harper Lee attended Huntingdon College from 1944 to 1945, studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, and spent a year at Oxford University. In the 1950s, she worked as an airline clerk in New York while writing her first novel. Her manuscript was rejected, and she was advised to rewrite it, which, fortunately, she did. Lee retained the setting and some characters, but shifted the point-of-view to that of six-year old "Scout" Finch, a tomboy and daughter of a town lawyer, Atticus Finch. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was published in 1960, became a best seller, and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A movie was made in 1962 starring Gregory Peck, who received an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus. (Lee modeled the character Dill on her close friend Truman Capote, whom she lived next door to as a child.) |For decades after the enormous success of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee did not produce another work. She refused to give interviews and lived a reclusive life in Alabama and New York City. In her introduction to a reissue of the novel, she wrote, "I am still alive, although very quiet." Lee received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 and, in 2010, a National Medal of Arts.|In 2015, the nation was surprised by news reports that the manuscript for the early version had been discovered in a safe deposit box and that Lee--now living in a nursing home near her home town--approved its publication. GO SET A WATCHMAN was published in July, 2015 to much fanfare, sparking a renewed interest in Harper Lee's life and work.