Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird, both as a novel and as a film, shows how time can change the way society views the importance of certain issues, such as racism. Because it was written during the civil rights movement, many people protested against it for conveying issues of prejudice between the north and the south. However, after time, the novel gradually became accepted. It is now a world-renowned classic, and it has won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as having made its way to the big screen. The author, Harper Lee, sets the story in a small town in Alabama. The narrator is a 9-year-old tomboy, whose father was a widowed lawyer. Herbert Mitgang wrote in the New York Times on July 13, 1960:
The author eases the reader into the life of the town with warmth and good humor. The reader builds what the children call a Negro ?snowman;? rolls crazily down the street in a somersaulting old tire; sits in a consolidated classroom in a hilarious scene where the backcountry kids unhinge a teacher from an alien ?north? county of Alabama. The children?s phrases, the slang of Southern poor white and Negro, and the language of the more educated people have a regional charm.
Mitgang tells us that the novel is about the life of two children who live in a small town, where they deal with racism in society. Prejudice surrounds their childhood, and it lurks with them while they are playing, and even while they are in the classroom. Mitgang tells us that on top of all this, racism is conveyed in the children?s language.
Writer Jane Kansas created a website dedicated to To Kill a Mockingbird. She covers areas such as the novel, the film, events, reviews, interviews, and a biography of Harper Lee. According to her biography, Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She attended Huntingdon College from 1944 to 1945, and studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949. In 1957, Lee gave a manuscript of her novel to the J. B. Lippincott Company. ?The company told her that her novel consisted of a series of short stories strung together, and she was urged to re-write it? (Kansas). Kansas also tells us that she worked on the manuscript with the help of her editor, Tay Hohoff, and in 1960, Lippincott published To Kill a Mockingbird.
According to an article in the New York Times, from May 19, 1961, titled ?Prize for Novel Elates Film Pair,? the novel caught the attention of producer Alan Pakula. Author of the article, Murray Schumach said that after reading the novel, Pakula became strongly inspired and wanted to create a film based on it. He then asked director Robert Mulligan to read it also. Schumach stated, ?Mr. Mulligan wanted to buy the film rights at once.? Together they acquired the rights to the novel. Schumach also informs his readers that they offered Harper Lee a chance to write the film script, but ?she was reluctant because she wanted to continue working in Monroeville, Alabama...