Harper Lee didn’t just write a classic novel. Her opus, To Kill a Mockingbird, also stands as a treasure for teachers. Finally a book on the curriculum which enthralls young readers, is enjoyable to teach and gets better with every reading.
It is with great sadness that I read of Harper Lee’s passing. On behalf of my fellow teachers, we thank you for giving us such a jewel to share with our students:
Celebrated American writer Harper Lee, best known for penning the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has died at the age of 89.
The city clerk of Monroeville, Alabama, confirmed Lee’s death to The Huffington Post.
Lee’s seminal novel, which became required reading in many middle and high schools, focused a critical lens on themes of racial injustice and traditional class and gender roles. Published in July 1960, the book was an international bestseller. Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize the following year.
To Kill a Mockingbird found immediate success in literary circles. Peppered with autobiographical elements, Lee’s debut novel was set in the mid-1930s in small-town Alabama and follows the story of precocious child Scout Finch and her father, Atticus. Atticus, a lawyer reminiscent of Lee’s own father, is appointed by a judge to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman.
To Kill a Mockingbird documents Robinson’s trial and tackles the themes of racial injustice and traditional class and gender roles. The book was enthusiastically received, with the New Yorker touting it as “totally ingenious,” and became an international bestseller.
The film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird was released in 1962 and starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The film won three Academy Awards and earned a spot in the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American movies of all time.
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