Mary McDonagh Murphy’s Scout, Atticus & Boo

Scout, Atticus, & Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy
Scout, Atticus, & Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy

Mary McDonagh Murphy compiled the interviews that compose Scout, Atticus, & Boo after completing her documentary, Hey Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird. It seemed that just too much material wouldn’t make its way into the film, and Murphy couldn’t bear for the material to end up on the cutting room floor. Those who have read Scout, Atticus & Boo are certainly glad she made that decision.

Mary McDonagh Murphy’s Interviews

Scout, Atticus & Boo includes 26 interviews with notable people who have been influenced by Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Some are those interviews are with those who had written about the novel previously. Wally Lamb and Scott Turow both weigh in on how Mockingbird has influenced the world.  Mark Childress, an author born in Monroeville, Alabama, also expresses wonderful sentiments both about the book and his own quest to get to know Harper Lee better.

Murphy also had the honor of interviewing Alice Lee, the protective older sister of Nelle Harper Lee. Alice Lee practiced law well into her 90s and was her sister’s constant companion for many years. Alice’s life and story are phenomenal in their own right, but intertwined with information about her talented sister, they are a must-read for the Harper Lee fan.

Mary McDonagh Murphy
Mary McDonagh Murphy

Others who were interviewed include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash and Jon Meacham. Each interviewee offers up instances of where they were when they first read the novel, why they first cracked its cover, or what it has meant to them—often since childhood. One common thread found through Scout, Atticus & Boo is that readers of the novel, famous and infamous, read To Kill a Mockingbird again and again, and find new lessons and points each and every time they do. This is a book that draws communities closer, bridges gaps between generations and continues to teach goodness and kindness to those who daily join the readership that makes up Mockingbird’s fanbase.

The Interview You’ll Miss

One interview that sadly did not make it into the book. Mary McDonagh Murphy interviewed Joy and Michael Brown, the couple introduced to Lee by Truman Capote who gifted the young writer a year off work to pursue writing, as the couple agreed to the interview only after Scout, Atticus & Boo was published. (This interview is included in McDonagh’s documentary.)

Scout, Atticus, and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at Ol' Curiosities and Book Shoppe
Scout, Atticus, and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe

Mary McDonagh Murphy Answers Questions about Inspiration and Writing

In addition to the interviews in the book, Murphy herself has answered a few questions—specifically how she came up with the idea for Scout, Atticus, & Boo and what she has been most surprised to learn during the process of interviewing her subjects. We also learn about the public’s reaction to the work, and some interesting trivia about To Kill a Mockingbird.

If you’ve read Scout, Atticus & Boo, let us know which interviews you enjoyed best and why. Who else would you like to have interviewed about Mockingbird and how do you think it has impacted him or her?

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