A Mocking Bird in Monroeville
"Mockingbird: A portrait of Harper Lee" written by Charles J. Shields
In 1944, Harper Lee briefly attended Huntingdon College. She joined a sorority there, but didn't stay long. She transferred to University of Alabama and studied law. After deciding that she wanted to focus on her writing, Harper dropped out of school and did not complete her degree. This upset her father greatly, but she was very determined. She moved to New York.
Finding time to write in New York turned out to be harder than she expected. Constantly working, she struggled to make enough money to get by. Then, in 1956, two friends changed her life with a Christmas gift. They gave Lee enough money to cover a years wages and a note that said "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you want. Merry Christmas." She finally had the opportunity to focus completely on her writing.
The original manuscript that Lee gave to Tay Hohoff, editor of J.B. Lippioncott & Co., was closer to a collection of short stories than to a novel. With Hohoff's, and her agents, help, Lee spent over 2 and a half years writing the short stories into one book. Her book was published July 11, 1960, and To Kill a Mockingbird became an instant bestseller. A year later, she received a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A movie based on the book was released the following year in 1962. Later, in 1999, it was also awarded "Best novel of the century".
Her book became famous, but Harper remained very private. She moved back to Monroeville to live a quiet life with her sister. She denied many requests for interviews and tried her best to stay out of the limelight. She started writing a couple different times, but didn't publish anything new. She lived a normal life, devoted to the town and a strong member of the community. Her friends did their best to try to help her by protecting her privacy.