Friday, November 09, 2007

Hero Of The Week: Harper Lee

President Bush awarded the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States, to To Kill a Mockingbird author Nelle Harper Lee. Her coming-of-age novel, published during the turmoil of the civil rights era, drew on her experiences witnessing racial discrimination in small-town Alabama, where she grew up as a neighbor and friend of author Truman Capote. Scout's friend Dill is commonly supposed to have been inspired by Lee's childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote, while Lee is the model for a character in Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.

Inspired by a racially charged rape trial in the 1930s, the book has sold over 30 million copies since it was published in 1960 and is on the reading list in many U.S. schools. In 1961 it won Lee the Pulitzer Prize and in 1962 was made into a movie, which won actor Gregory Peck an Oscar.

After completing To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee accompanied Capote to Holcomb, Kansas, to assist him in researching what they thought would be an article on a small town's response to the murder of a farmer and his family. Capote expanded the material into his best-selling book, In Cold Blood (1966). The experiences of Capote and Lee in Holcomb were depicted in two different films, Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006).

The reclusive Lee, 81, has only published a handful of essays since the novel and has made few public remarks. She was taken to the stage in a wheelchair but stood throughout the 35-minute ceremony, smiling broadly.


Michael said...

What a great lady. I loved that book. Good picture of her, too. Too bad Dubya's in it tho. ;-)

cb said...

Is that Maya Angelou in the background looking like she just smelled one of George's egg-salad farts?

tater said...

one of my favorite books of all time. Good for her!

evilganome said...

I love that book. I'm happy she won, but too bad she had to accept the honor from GW Douche Bag.

michael sean morris said...

Great novel, great lady, lose the crutch. What is with him? He's hateful, hateful, hateful and then he's all smiles with someone who is the antithesis of him.

That woman to W's right in the fabu ensemble is Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the President of Liberia - which you would know if you read the Pop Culture Institute. Just saying.