Nelle Harper Lee was born in 1926 In Monroeville Alabama and died in 2016. Her father worked as a newspaper editor and later as a lawyer and in many ways was the model for the character Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.
Lee studied at Huntingdon College Montgomery and the University of Alabama but did not complete a degree. She worked as an airline reservation agent in New York City writing fiction in her spare time.
Lee submitted her first draft of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in 1957 and revised it many times before its eventual publication in 1960.
She worked for many years with her childhood friend Truman Capote without publishing any further work of her own. In 2015 ‘Go Set A Watchman’ was published as a new novel but was later confirmed to be the first draft of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Its publication was controversial for many reasons, the main being that it came shortly after the death of her sister (who managed her affairs) who had long argued against its publication.
Many parts of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ are considered to be autobiographical. The character Dill was based on Lee’s childhood friend and neighbour Truman Capote and Boo Radley was based on a man living in the same neighbourhood. The book, after several attempts to have it banned as immoral, became a classic and is still widely read today.
Lee died in a care home in 2016, wheelchair bound and nearly deaf and blind.