Some sad news today, as legendary and elusive author Harper Lee has passed away, at the age of 89.
Lee’s writing career wasn’t all that prolific, but it made a big impact, as her classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” is still one of the most popular novels of all-time, selling over 40 million copies, since its release, in 1960.
Written from the point of view of a young girl named Jean Louise Finch, better known as “Scout,” the book is set during the Great Depression, in the small southern town of Maycomb County, where a black man, Tom Robinson, has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, took the case and defended Tom, in the face of intense bigotry and scorn from the local townspeople. In doing so, he taught some important lessons to Scout and her brother, Jem.
Here’s my favourite…
Of course, just two years later, the book was turned into a fantastic film, starring Gregory Peck with what may be his defining performance, as Atticus Finch. Peck’s performance remains so beloved, that in 2003, his portrayal of Atticus was named the American Film Institute’s Greatest Screen Hero of all-time.
I read the novel in school, and I have a copy of it on my bookshelf at home, along with my own copy of the film, on DVD. To me, it never gets old.
I’ve yet to read Lee’s only other novel, “Go Set A Watchman,” which was only released last year, to a considerable amount of controversy, as it presented an alternate viewpoint of some of the beloved characters from the original novel, especially the character of Atticus Finch.
On one hand, I would like to read it, to see what the fuss was all about. On the other hand, I would almost rather not have the characters established in my mind by “To Kill A Mockingbird,” tainted by a different narrative. Time will tell, if I decide to dive in, but it will be an interesting read, to be sure.
In any event, Harper Lee left an indelible legacy on the world of literature, and in the minds of readers young and old, with a story that remains timeless.
Thank you, Harper Lee.