A Life In Literature: Nelle Harper Lee

Born in 1926, American author Nelle Harper Lee is universally renowned for her prestigious and highly acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird ,which was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize. Although this is the only work currently published by Lee, the novel has made and continues to make a significant impact with the themes of racial segregation, gender classification, youth and compassion, striking a chord among those who indulge in the turmoil and fortitude of the narrative.

Many believe that one of the reasons for Lee’s literature being so successful is her ability to, through her use of words, convey both the anguish and elation she has experienced during her life, making it relatable to a large and diverse audience. As a child Lee’s father was a lawyer and she witnessed his struggle to defend the innocence of two black men who had supposedly murdered a white man at a time where racial discrimination was a common entity in American culture. This may have been her inspiration to display how the 20th century black community react to the injustice of the rape charge against Tom Robinson in the novel. Another aspect of Lee’s life is brought to our attention in the novel through the character of Scout. Lee makes it clear that, when growing up, she was undeniably a tomboy, and she shows how hard it was to be accepted this way whilst being constantly moulded into being something she was not.

Following the overwhelming success of the novel, Lee moved back to her home town of Monroeville where she remained inactive in terms of literature for almost half a century, besides occasionally writing articles for magazines such as Vogue. This has caused many fans to speculate as to where To Kill a Mockingbird would remain the only piece of literature written by Lee. However, it was recently announced that Lee has in fact written another novel, Go Set a Watchman. The news of this has caused euphoria among many literary critics and also fans of Lee who are eager for the release of the book in July. It can only be expressed that, if the new novel reaches the standard of the previous, Nelle Harper Lee has certainly cemented her successful life in literature.

Words by William Castile

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