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
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!