This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws,
Harper Lee is releasing her second novel Go Set a Watchman this summer, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird being released. The novel itself is a bit of a mystery in that it was written in the mid-50s, but was “lost” seemingly for good. Go Set a Watchman is the sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird and features Scout Finch as a grown woman. Watchman was also written before Mockingbird and was supposed to be her debut work, instead her publisher convinced her to write from Scout’s childhood perspective. Harper Lee is 88 years old and has lived an extremely reclusive life since making a name for herself as a highly regarded author. Here’s what we know…
Harper & Truman
Harper Lee was good friends with Truman Capote and closely worked with him on his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Harper met Truman when they were children and they remained close friends until Truman died in 1984. Some say Capote even wrote To Kill a Mockingbird for Lee but as far as we know that isn’t true.
Real Life Meets Fiction
To Kill A, Mockingbird held a lot of similarities to Lee’s real life. Her father was a defense lawyer who at one time took the case of two black men who were accused of murdering a white shop owner. The men were convicted and hanged. Lee herself was a self-proclaimed “tomboy” and based much of Scout Finch on herself.
Gregory Peck portrayed Atticus Finch in the film version of Lee’s book and for it he won an Oscar. Lee and Peck became close friends until his death and remains friends with his family today. Peck’s grandson is named after Lee.
Aside from the aforementioned books, Lee has never published any other novels. She did attempt writing two other novels, The Long Goodbye and a true crime novel about a serial killer from Alabama, but neither projects were ever finished.
Harper’s Honorary Degree
Lee has received numerous awards for To Kill A Mockingbird but in May of 2006 she was given an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame.