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Harper Lee

Harper Lee standing next to two gentlemen

Who is Harper Lee?

Born into what was thought of as a mainstream Southern family on April 28, 1926, Nelle Harper Lee was to become far more than simply another Southern belle.

Along with her parents and siblings, Lee called Monroeville, Alabama home.  As time went on, Monroeville was to frame the lives of more than one great writer including Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote.

A tomboy without question during her youth, Lee’s personality and character are directly reflected in her much revered novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which is considered a true American classic.

The Early Years of Harper Lee

Initially, Lee followed her father into the legal field, studying law at the University of Alabama. However,  she never completely relinquished her love for literature and writing. As her studies moved forward, Lee felt compelled to answer the call to become a writer, leaving behind her ambition to become an attorney.

Harper Lee focused intently on the pursuit of writing, taking her middle name as her first in an attempt to prevent the world from coming to know her as ‘Nellie.’  The aspiring author had no idea that she would soon be thrust into a world of unsurpassed attention with what was, until recently, her first and only published novel.

It would come as a great surprise to the author that on publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, the world began to regard her as a great talent. She was overwhelmed by all the attention and found it to be somewhat of a burden, saying quite publicly, that she was stunned by the popularity of her work.

Lee modeled the characters in her book, as well as the setting of Monroeville -- her sleepy hometown.  It wouldn’t take long to draw the world’s attention, and for a time, Monroeville would become almost famous, warranting a visit from renowned actor, Gregory Peck, who would play the character of Atticus Finch in the movie version of Lee’s story.

Ultimately, To Kill a Mockingbird,  would be given the highest honor in literature, the Pulitzer Prize, which was awarded to Harper Lee in 1961.

Would the Real Harper Lee Please Stand Up?

Harper Lee has been the object of great speculation, and while there has been much written about her, there is still much that the world doesn’t know.  By her own design, she chooses to remain private and somewhat reclusive.

Here are a few interesting facts about Harper Lee:

Being close friends with Truman Capote led Harper Lee to develop her already strong instincts of survival and strength of character. A ‘tell it like it is’ approach, and an inclination for not suffering fools, soon followed.

As a committed writer, overseen by literary publishers and editors, Harper Lee is said to have been studious and professional in her approach to complete the prized novel. Although strong willed, Lee was moderately compliant, mostly due to being a new and inexperienced writer. For the most part, she was regarded for doing what was asked of her.

Many early drafts of Mockingbird and other pieces were not considered good enough by Lee, and duly thrown out. After 40 million copies sold worldwide, many are certainly glad someone had the good sense to save Lee’s work from her own harsh hand in editing.

Interestingly, To Kill a Mockingbird has long been the bane of many students. A mandatory look inside the turbulent times of conflict and race relations, it is considered to be number one, of the Top Ten books that students have been forced to read -- a fact possibly amusing to the author.  (In another survey, Mockingbirdhas been ranked as just behind the Bible in “favorite books” of Southern readers.)

Lee has been painted as a recluse, offering comment only where she felt it was required, and even then, holding to brevity about herself and her writing.  Perhaps these characteristics in her personality have only been magnified by the book’s success.

Great Expectations of Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s notable past has brought us to a present-day filled with whispers of a new novel on the horizon.

Harper Lee being presented an award

Understandably, the mere mention of a new manuscript and of its pending publication, has literary appetites stirring. The climate of excitement about the new book is partially due to this literary work being Lee’s only novel since the release of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960.  The excitement is also fanned by the fact it has been penned by a multiple-accolade-winning novelist of such notoriety.

Although written sometime before To Kill a Mockingbird, the new title, Go Set a Watchman, is what some would call a sequel, as it brings back the character of Scout Finch to the familiar setting of Maycomb, AL, some 20 years later.

Harper Lee will be 89 when this much-awaited piece becomes available in bookstores, and there has been certain conjecture as to whether this new work will be worthy of its predecessor. These questions are met confidently by fans of Lee who remain just as protective of the author, as she once was for this continuance of a legendary classic.

There is no question that the anticipation of both readers and the literary industry itself is unparalleled, especially in today’s world so used to immediate gratification. The wait seems, in the very least, to be excruciating for Go Set a Watchman’s debut in print.

 

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  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (Hardcover)
    $25.99

    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first novel written Harper Lee of Monroeville, Alabama. Its primary themes are racial and class prejudice. The story is told by young Scout Finch, who lives with her father Atticus, a lawyer, and her older brother Jem in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.

    The people in Maycomb are dealing with some serious social issues. A young black man has been accused of raping a white girl. Still taboo today, it was an act considered especially egregious in the Deep South of the 1930s. As the children of Atticus Finch, who is appointed to defend the accused, Scout and Jem observe and experience much of the fallout of the man’s trial. They learn that sometimes people aren’t always what they seem. They also learn that sometimes people are exactly who they seem to be. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that heroes can come in the most unexpected forms.

    More than 50 years after its original publication, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to be embraced as a piece of classic literature, and it is still regularly read in schools throughout the United States.

    “Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.”  - Harper Lee, from the Foreword of the 35th Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Learn More
  2. Go Set a Watchman (Hardcover) Embossed Special Edition
    $35.00

    Go Set a Watchman is the wonderful new novel from one of America's bestselling authors, Harper Lee, who is known so well for her classic book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Watchman explores the tensions between a local culture and a changing national political agenda through the eyes of a character we know so well, Scout Finch, who is all grown up and has returned to the small town of Maycomb, Alabama to visit her family and reconcile her past.

    For more information about this new book from Harper Lee, check out "Digging Deeper into Go Set a Watchman."

    Excerpt from our blog: 

    ...While many have referred to Go Set a Watchman as To Kill a Mockingbird’s sequel, it was actually written well before the story we know and love. It was on the advice of her publisher that Harper Lee changed the narrative to that of a child telling the story of Tom Robinson as it unfolded in Maycomb County, Alabama...  (Read More)

     

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  3. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee, audio book
    $35.00

    An audio-CD version of the new book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, narrated by Reese Witherspoon. Make sure to get your copy from our local book shoppe in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee's hometown. No matter how busy your day, you can enjoy the second novel from Lee, as you listen on the go to the most anticipated book of the year. Watchman is Harper Lee's unforeseen second novel, which explores the tensions that arise from the dynamics of loyalties that are so common in small towns and an ever-evolving national agenda. These themes are woven into the tapestry of  Watchman as it focuses on the characters of Atticus Finch, and his children and their relationships with one another and the town they call home years after Mockingbird's fateful summer.

    What exactly does Go Set a Watchman have in store for readers? Catch up on the latest with articles from our blog:

    ...Throughout the book, Scout must deal with many personal and political issues as she speaks with her father and tries to understand how he views society. She also struggles with finding out how she feels about the place she was born and where she grew up. (Read More)

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  4. The Harper Lee Audio Collection: To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman
    $64.99

    Includes audiobook CD editions of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, performed by Sissy Spacek, and Go Set a Watchman, performed by Reese Witherspoon.

    Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has been beloved by millions for over fifty years, and now following the release of her second book, Go Set a Watchman, the audiobook editions of both novels are beautifully packaged together in a limited edition slipcase, just in time for the holiday season.

    To Kill a Mockingbird: Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice--but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

    Go Set a Watchman: Taking place 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman looks at the characters of the world famous novel as they adjust to the turbulent political events of the mid-1950s in America. Jean-Louise Finch (known in her childhood as Scout) is making a visit back to Maycomb, Alabama where she confronts the ghosts of her own past. Moving, funny and compelling, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating light on the famous To Kill a Mockingbird, and stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

    Now, for the first time ever, these two magnificent audiobooks will be packaged together, becoming the perfect gift for Harper Lee's millions of fans.

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  5. Go Set a Watchman (Leatherbound) by Harper Lee
    $50.00

    Order a gorgeous, limited edition leatherbound copy of Go Set a Watchman, the first book written by Harper Lee, but never-before published. Written from the perspective of To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout Finch later in life, it's the story of Scout returning home to deal with a variety of issues, and to come to terms with the social and political leanings of the characters we all know and love from Mockingbird. A wonderful new novel from one of America's bestselling authors, Watchman explores the tensions between a local culture and a changing national political agenda as those involved relate within the dynamics of family arguments and love. Touted by many as a certain instant classic, the release of Go Set a Watchman has been the literary event of the decade.

    For more information about the new book from Harper Lee, check out "Digging Deeper into Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman."

    Excerpt from our blog:

    ...We won’t know what happened to Scout and Jem and Atticus until July 14. For those of us who first read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, that doesn’t seem like such a long time to wait. Perhaps the students of tomorrow are about to be blessed with another lesson concerning truth and integrity, one that will stand easily alongside the masterpiece that so many of us related to as we were growing up in the deep South. The publishers promise a novel that can certainly stand alone. I—for one—am hoping that Go Set a Watchman lives up to the standard of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I will forever consider among the best books ever written... (Read More)

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  6. *SIGNED* Go Set a Watchman, Collector's Edition by Harper Lee
    $2,000.00

    Out of stock

    Order a gilded, leather bound collector's edition of Go Set a Watchman, the first book written by Harper Lee, but never-before published. Written from the perspective of To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout Finch later in life, it's the story of Scout returning home to deal with a variety of issues, and to come to terms with the social and political leanings of the characters we all know and love from Mockingbird. A wonderful new novel from one of America's bestselling authors, Watchman explores the tensions between a local culture and a changing national political agenda as those involved relate within the dynamics of family arguments and love. Touted by many as a certain instant classic, the release of Go Set a Watchman has been the literary event of the decade.

    For more information about the new book from Harper Lee, check out "Digging Deeper into Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman."

    Excerpt from our blog:

    ...We won’t know what happened to Scout and Jem and Atticus until July 14. For those of us who first read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, that doesn’t seem like such a long time to wait. Perhaps the students of tomorrow are about to be blessed with another lesson concerning truth and integrity, one that will stand easily alongside the masterpiece that so many of us related to as we were growing up in the deep South. The publishers promise a novel that can certainly stand alone. I—for one—am hoping that Go Set a Watchman lives up to the standard of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I will forever consider among the best books ever written... (Read More)

    Learn More
  7. 40th Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    $2,500.00

    We are very proud to finally be able to offer a signed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird! This is an authentic hand signed hardcover of the 40th anniversary edition, autographed by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Harper Lee. It is in excellent, like-new condition and includes the original dust jacket. Ms. Lee's signature is in blue ink on the title page without any inscription. This book has only had one previous owner and was never read. It has been stored in its original box from the publisher since Ms. Lee signed it in 1999. Ms. Lee stopped doing public book signings in the 1990s, which makes this book a very rare collectible.  

    It is the first printing of the 40th anniversary edition. To learn more about rare first editions of To Kill a Mockingbird, check out our blog

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  8. To Kill a Mockingbird DVD
    $14.98

    The 50th Anniversary Edition of  To Kill a Mockingbird is a must-have for any Mockingbird fan. Not only is it digitally remastered and restored, but it also includes a bonus disk with hours of additional material. The film itself is a joy as always. A great piece of cinema that does real justice to it's literary counterpiece, it has become beloved in schools and homes that value good entertainment that's family friendly and educational.

    Atticus Finch is played by the phenomenal Gregory Peck, and the town of Maycomb, AL becomes the backdrop to the story that stopped us in our childhood tracks and made us wonder about the world in which we lived. Even better, this anniversay edition of the film includes insight into the town of Monroeville, AL, the setting on which Lee based the book. It also offers interviews and other bonus material that give viewers a vantage point of those who knew the place best, along with the opinions and critiques of the cast and crew.  

    Looking for a cornerstone to add to your film library? This disc is a must-have for serious film buffs and literature lovers alike.

    Learn More
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird
    $15.00

    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first novel written Harper Lee of Monroeville, Alabama. Its primary themes are racial and class prejudice. The story is told by young Scout Finch, who lives with her father Atticus, a lawyer, and her older brother Jem in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.

    The people in Maycomb are dealing with some serious social issues. A young black man has been accused of raping a white girl. Still taboo today, it was an act considered especially egregious in the Deep South of the 1930s. As the children of Atticus Finch, who is appointed to defend the accused, Scout and Jem observe and experience much of the fallout of the man’s trial. They learn that sometimes people aren’t always what they seem. They also learn that sometimes people are exactly who they seem to be. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that heroes can come in the most unexpected forms.

    More than 50 years after its original publication, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to be embraced as a piece of classic literature, and it is still regularly read in schools throughout the United States.

    “Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.”  - Harper Lee, from the Foreword of the 35th Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Learn More
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    $16.99

    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first novel written Harper Lee of Monroeville, Alabama. Its primary themes are racial and class prejudice. The story is told by young Scout Finch, who lives with her father Atticus, a lawyer, and her older brother Jem in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.

    The people in Maycomb are dealing with some serious social issues. A young black man has been accused of raping a white girl. Still taboo today, it was an act considered especially egregious in the Deep South of the 1930s. As the children of Atticus Finch, who is appointed to defend the accused, Scout and Jem observe and experience much of the fallout of the man’s trial. They learn that sometimes people aren’t always what they seem. They also learn that sometimes people are exactly who they seem to be. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that heroes can come in the most unexpected forms.

    More than 50 years after its original publication, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to be embraced as a piece of classic literature, and it is still regularly read in schools throughout the United States.

    “Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.”  - Harper Lee, from the Foreword of the 35th Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Learn More

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