A Russian-born American novelist, versifier, critic, and popular scientist, Asimov is best known for his science fiction. The author and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1923. His parents allowed him to read only non-fiction books as a child, which initiated his lifelong interest in science. Asimov had his first book published in 1951 and the following year, under the pseudonym Paul French, he published his first children's book. The author of over 350 fiction and non-fiction books, Asimov wrote 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Asimov also earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Columbia University, and was as respected an academic biochemist as he was a science fiction writer. An indefatigable lecturer and contributor to newspapers and magazines, Asimov came to be increasingly regarded as a scientific seer, and was responsible for adding the term "robotics" to the English language.
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.
"Atticus Finch being spat upon without spitting back and Ben-Hur choosing not to kill Messala. Those are lessons. Mercy. Tolerance. Those burned in my imagination."
"[T]he perennially beloved and treacly account of growing up in a small Southern town during the Depression....To read the novel is, for most, an exercise in wish-fulfillment and self-congratulation, a chance to consider thorny issues of race and prejudice from a safe distance and with the comfortable certainty that the reader would never harbor the racist attitudes espoused by the lowlifes in the novel."
From the Publisher
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is about the crisis of human behavior and conscience arising from the racism and prejudice that exist in the small Southern town during the Depression. Scout Finch, age 8, who lives with her brother, Jem, and their lawyer father, Atticus, in Maycomb, Alabama, tells the story of her father's defense of Tom Robinson, a young black man who is being tried for the rape of a white woman. Harper Lee's only novel, first published in 1960 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, is a much-beloved tale of growing up, as well as an exploration of heroism confronted with bigotry.