New flight for Mock­ing­bird

Townsville Bulletin - - CLASSIFIEDS -

FIFTY YEARS AF­TER HER FIRST BOOK BE­CAME A GLOBAL SEN­SA­TION, HARPER LEE’S SEC­OND NOVEL TAKES FLIGHT TO­DAY, WRITES BLANCHE CLARK HARPER Lee is an enigma. The most fa­mous au­thor in the world for a sin­gle novel, she is also one of the least known.

The 89- year- old shuns pub­lic­ity and re­cently told an in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter in her home town in Alabama to “go away” af­ter he made re­peated at­tempts to con­tact her about her new novel. Unof­fi­cial bi­ogra­phies, in­ter­views from the 1960s and care­fully crafted press re­leases are all that’s avail­able.

Nelle ( her grand­mother’s name spelt back­wards) Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Mon­roeville, Alabama. Her fa­ther was a lawyer, a mem­ber of the Alabama state leg­is­la­ture and also owned part of the lo­cal news­pa­per. Her mother ap­par­ently suf­fered from a men­tal ill­ness and rarely left the house.

Lee, the youngest of four chil­dren,hild stud­ied law at the Univer­sity of Alabama, but af­ter a sum­mer at Ox­ford Univer­sity in Eng­land as an ex­change stu­dent she moved to New York City in 1949 to fol­low her dream of be­com­ing a writer.

She be­friended Broad­way com­poser and lyri­cist Michael Martin Brown and his wife, Joy, who gen­er­ously sup­ported her for a year so she could write. The Browns also helped her find an agent, who en­cour­aged her to turn one of her short sto­ries into a novel.

She sub­mit­ted the man­u­script to JB Lip­pin­cott Com­pany in 1957 and, over the next two years, editor Tay Ho­hoff guided her.

But the process took its toll and it’s said she be­came so frus­trated when re­vis­ing the third draft of To Kill A Mock­ing­bird – or At­ti­cus, as she called it – she threw the man­u­script out of her apart­ment win­dow into the snow.

Ho­hoff told her in no un­cer­tain terms to re­trieve it and in July 1960, JB Lip­pin­cott pub­lished. It won the Pulitzer Prize the next year.

When he asked her about her re­ac­tion to the novel’s enor­mous suc­cess, she replied: “It was like be­ing hit over the head and knocked cold. You see, I never ex­pected any sort of suc­cess with Mock­ing­bird. I didn’t ex­pect the book to sell in the first place. I was hop­ing for a quick and mer­ci­ful death at the hands of re­view­ers, but at the same time I sort of hoped maybe some­one would like it enough to give me en­cour­age­ment.”

In the mid- 1960s, Lee re­port­edly worked on a sec­ond novel, but it was never pub­lished. She also worked on a non­fic­tion book about an Alabama se­rial killer, which also never saw the light of day.

To­day, the long- awaited se­quel to Mock­ing­bird will fi­nally be re­leased.

Go Set A Watch­man is set in the mid- 1950s and in­cludes sev­eral char­ac­ters from Mock­ing­bird, 20 years on.

Jean Louise Finch, known as a child as Scout, re­turns to May­comb from New York to visit her fa­ther, At­ti­cus. Sud­denly she must grap­ple with is­sues, per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal.

NOVEL SUC­CESS: Gre­gory Peck as lawyer At­ti­cus Finch with Brock Peters as Tom Robin­son in a scene from To Kill A Mock­ing­bird ( 1962), and ( inset) au­thor Harper Lee.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.