Scout, Dill, Atticus and Boo – those names can only mean one thing. It is 50 years since Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, the ultimate literary one-hit wonder, was published by J. B. Lippincott & Co. So much has been written about this novel that it is hard to provide facts that further illustrate Lee and her famous story of childhood in the American South.
A bright girl from Monroeville, Alabama, works as an airline reservations clerk in New York and then quits to finish her novel, which becomes an immediate bestseller, wins the Pulitzer Prize, is adapted into a wonderful movie starring Gregory Peck, is translated into more than 40 languages and sells over 30 million copies. The book has been read and reread by millions of people around the world and is taught by countless teachers of English literature (although there is always a lunatic who wants it banned every year). We don’t blink when it shows up on our bestseller lists here at AbeBooks.
The character of Dill was famously inspired by Lee's childhood friend, Truman Capote. Lee went with Capote to Holcomb, Kansas, when he was researching the details behind the murder of a family for a New Yorker magazine feature – a story that eventually began In Cold Blood.
Harper Lee is now 84. Apart from a few magazine articles in the 1960s, she never published anything else although she did work on a second novel that never saw the light of day. She has stayed, mostly, out of public life. Celebrate this novel’s 50th anniversary and the cult of the one-hit wonder.