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Posts Tagged ‘Huckleberry Finn’

Harper Lee dies, age 89

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Celebrated author Harper Lee died at the age of 89 in her beloved hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains one of America’s most culturally significant novels

Lee remained, to the end, immune to the blandishments of worldwide fame, which enveloped her in 1960 with the publication of her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has sold more than 30 million copies in English, remains in print (selling more than a million copies a year) and in every school in America, and, until last year, was her only book.

To Kill a Mockingbird was the Huckleberry Finn of the 20th century,” said Charles J. Shields, author of a 2006 biography, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. “It redirected American’s gaze after WWII and the excitement of the 1950s back to the enduring problems of racism and injustice in this country.”

Her endearing and enduring novel, set in 1930s Maycomb, Ala. (the stand-in for Monroeville), is the story of upstanding lawyer Atticus Finch, who defends a black man falsely accused of rape in a time and place when that could get a man killed.

The story is told through the eyes of Atticus’ small tomboy daughter, Scout, and features, among many memorable characters, her neighbor pal, Dill, a stand-in for Lee’s childhood friend, the writer Truman Capote, who spent his early years in Monroeville, prompting the town to refer to itself today as the “Literary Capital of Alabama.”

President Obama, who presented her with the National Medal of the Arts in 2011, issued a statement :

“What that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other, and then the way we saw ourselves. Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities, and our country.

“Ms. Lee changed America for the better. And there is no higher tribute we can offer her than to keep telling this timeless American story — to our students, to our neighbors, and to our children — and to constantly try, in our own lives, to finally see each other.”