Monroeville: Literary Capital of Alabama

Literary Capital Monroeville's To Kill a Mockingbird Play Amphitheatre
Monroeville’s Amphitheatre

In 1997 the Alabama Legislature bestowed the title of “Literary Capital of Alabama” on the sleepy town of Monroeville. There’s a lot behind that title. Monroeville is the home of Harper Lee, renowned author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The town also played an equally important role in the life of Truman Capote, author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Monroeville is also the home of Mark Childress, who wrote Crazy in Alabama, and a number of other writers and journalists of note. Monroeville loves to celebrate its literary associations, notably with a play on the courthouse lawn of To Kill a Mockingbird and exhibits in the old courthouse.

Monroeville and Literary Tourism

Monroeville was the model for Maycomb, Alabama, the setting of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. More than 30,000 visitors come to Monroeville each year, largely because of its association with classic literature and Lee’s Mockingbird. As Literary Capital, Monroeville is also a major stop on the Southern Literary Trail, an organization that focuses on the history of Southern Literature throughout Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.

The Literary Capital and the Alabama Writer’s Symposium

Literary Capital Monroeville
Celebration of Reading sculpture

In an effort to keep its literary heritage alive and well, a number of groups within Monroeville work together to achieve a crowning event: the annual Alabama Writer’s Symposium. Each year a number of successful and aspiring writers journey to the Alabama Southern Community College, where back-to-back events focus on good writing and authorship. Attendees also enjoy the chance to meet and mingle with Alabama authors.

The event is an undertaking by the Alabama Center for Literary Arts and is acclaimed as a celebration of the state’s literary history. The Symposium draws a number of highly successful writers and has hosted such talents as Cynthia Tucker, Fannie Flagg and Kathryn Tucker Windham in the past. The highlight of the annual event is the naming of winner of the Harper Lee Award, given to Alabama’s most distinguished writer.

For a small town in the South, the literary roots of Monroeville run deep. Its attention to—and celebration of—a remarkable literary heritage makes Monroeville the ideal Literary Capital of Alabama.

Have you been to Monroeville? Are you planning a visit? We’d love to hear from you!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Monroeville’s primary industry is timber, and there are the usual small-town businesses—delis, bakeries, antique stores.  It’s the sort of town you’d expect to have a population of 6,000.  In fact, it mirrors the fictional Maycomb in hundred small-town ways—but then there are the unique points of Monroeville:  the Courthouse that has become famous because of To Kill a Mockingbird, the newly-formed non-profit company that promises to keep the beloved theatrical version of the novel going, and the way the little town and its citizens protect their most famous resident, Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.   Part of Monroeville’s charm is based on its reputation as the Literary Capital of Alabama, and that’s a title that the people of Monroeville take to heart. […]

  2. […] Right now, we are very excited about our fun, new Ol’ Curiosities t-shirts! This awesome octopus design comes in youth sizes, as well as sizes for adults, so everyone–big and small–can show their support for their favorite lil’ book shoppe! These Ol’ Curiosities t-shirts make great gift for our fans, and they are a perfect souvenir from Monroeville,  if you happen to be just passing through the literary capital of Alabama. […]

  3. […] To Kill a Mockingbird  has already been adapted into an Oscar-winning film (with a screenplay by Horton Foote), which starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout.  Harper Lee’s tiny hometown of Monroeville has also known the story in dramatic form with a courthouse-lawn rendition that has become tradition in the town, and a must for tourists seeking to learn more about Monroeville, the Literary Capital of Alabama, on which the fictional Maycomb was based. […]

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