When first published the novel received rave reviews.
A year later it won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, followed by a movie version in 1962 starring Gregory Peck.
Indeed, the novel was such a success that Lee, unable to cope with all the attention and publicity, retired into obscurity.
Interviewed late in life, Lee cited two reasons for her continued silence: “I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money.
Scout and Jem are surprised when their bespectacled, bookish father turns out to have a “God-given talent” with a rifle; it is he who fires the single shot that will render the townsfolk safe.
The children rejoice at what they consider an impressive display of courage.
It is Miss Maudie, for example, who explains to Scout why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.
They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” Throughout the novel, the children grow more aware of the community’s attitudes.
Anne Maxwell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the classics of American literature.