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  1. Death of the Author - TV Tropes
  2. Can We Ever Kill the Author?
  4. Don’t Do It, Harper Lee
  5. In theory: The Death of the Author

After graduating in , she attended the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Lee stood apart from the other students—she couldn't have cared less about fashion, makeup or dating. Instead, she focused on her studies and writing. Lee was a member of the literary honor society and the glee club.

Death of the Author - TV Tropes

Transferring to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Lee was known for being a loner and an individualist. She did make a greater attempt at a social life there, joining a sorority for a while. Pursuing her interest in writing, Lee contributed to the school's newspaper and its humor magazine, the Rammer Jammer , eventually becoming the publication's editor. In her junior year, Lee was accepted into the university's law school, which allowed students to work on law degrees while still undergraduates. The demands of her law studies forced her to leave her post as Rammer Jammer editor.

After her first year in the program, Lee began expressing to her family that writing—not the law—was her true calling. She went to the University of Oxford in England that summer as an exchange student. Returning to her law studies that fall, Lee dropped out after the first semester.

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She soon moved north to follow her dreams to become a writer. Author Harper Lee in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama in In , a year-old Lee arrived in New York City. In , the Browns gave Lee an impressive Christmas present—to support her for a year so that she could write full time. She quit her job and devoted herself to her craft.

The Browns also helped her find an agent, Maurice Crain. He, in turn, was able to get publisher J. Lippincott Company interested in her work. Working with editor Tay Hohoff, Lee worked on a manuscript set in a small Alabama town, which eventually became her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Tougher than many of the boys, Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman's childhood protector.

Truman, who shared few interests with boys his age, was picked on for being sensitive and for the fancy clothes he wore. While the two friends were very different, they both had difficult home lives. Truman was living with his mother's relatives in town after largely being abandoned by his own parents.

Can We Ever Kill the Author?

While in New York City in the s, Lee was reunited with her old friend Capote, who was by then one of the literary rising stars of the time. In , Lee joined forces with Capote to assist him with an article he was writing for The New Yorker. Capote was writing about the impact of the murder of four members of the Clutter family on their small Kansas farming community.

The two traveled to Kansas to interview townspeople, friends and family of the deceased and the investigators working to solve the crime. Serving as his research assistant, Lee helped with the interviews, eventually winning over some of the locals with her easygoing, unpretentious manner. Truman, with his flamboyant personality and style, had a hard time initially getting himself into his subjects' good graces. During their time in Kansas, the Clutters' suspected killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were caught in Las Vegas and brought back for questioning.

Lee and Capote got a chance to interview the suspects not long after their arraignment in January Soon after, Lee and Capote returned to New York. She worked on the galleys for her forthcoming first novel while he started working on his article, which would evolve into the nonfiction masterpiece In Cold Blood.

The pair returned to Kansas for the murder trial. Lee gave Capote all of her notes on the crime, the victims, the killers, the local communities and much more. Lee worked with Capote on and off on In Cold Blood. She had been invited by Smith and Hickock to witness their execution in , but she declined.

When Capote's book was finally published in , a rift developed between the two collaborators for a time. Lee published her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, in July Go Set a Watchman was submitted to a publisher in When the book wasn't accepted, Lee's editor asked her to revise the story and make her main character Scout a child. The author worked on the story for two years and it eventually became To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee's Go Set a Watchman was thought to be lost until it was discovered by her lawyer Tonja Carter in a safe deposit box. In February , it was announced that HarperCollins would publish the manuscript on July 14, Scout's father Atticus, the upstanding moral conscience of To Kill a Mockingbird , is portrayed as a racist with bigoted views and ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

In Watchman, Atticus tells Scout: "Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? The controversial novel and shocking portrayal of a beloved character sparked debates among fans, and offered literary scholars and students fodder for analyzing the author's creative process.


Lee's second novel also broke pre-sale records for HarperCollins. With reports of year-old Lee's faltering health, questions arose about whether the publication was the author's decision.

But even that message didn't put an end to questions: In a letter, Lee's sister Alice had written that Lee would "sign anything put before her by any one in whom she has confidence. Alabama officials investigated and found no evidence that she was a victim of coercion. Playwright Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for a To Kill a Mockingbird movie adaptation.

Lee visited the set during filming and did a lot of interviews to support the project. The movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird earning eight Academy Award nominations and won three awards, including best actor for Gregory Peck 's portrayal of Finch. The character is said to have been based on Lee's father. In , Lee had an operation on her hand to repair damage done by a bad burn.

During the s and '80s, Lee largely retreated from public life. Lee spent some of her time on a nonfiction book project about an Alabama serial killer which had the working title The Reverend. This work, however, was never published. Lee generally lived a quiet, private life, splitting her time between New York City and her hometown of Monroeville.

Don’t Do It, Harper Lee

In Monroeville, she lived with her older sister Alice Lee, a lawyer who the author called "Atticus in a skirt. Active in her church and community, Lee became famous for avoiding the spotlight of her celebrity. She would often use the wealth she had accumulated from her success to make anonymous philanthropic donations to various charitable causes. In November , President George W. Bush presented Lee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her "outstanding contribution to America's literary tradition" at a ceremony at the White House.

Her sister Alice once said about Lee, "Books are the things she cares about.

In theory: The Death of the Author

In May , Lee filed a lawsuit in federal court against literary agent Samuel Pinkus. Lee charged that, in , Pinkus "engaged in a scheme to dupe" her out of the copyright to To Kill a Mockingbird , later diverting royalties from the work. In September , a settlement was reached in the lawsuit. Later that year, Lee's legal team filed suit against the Monroe County Heritage Museum located in Monroeville for trying "to capitalize on the fame" of To Kill a Mockingbird and for selling unauthorized merchandise related to the novel.

Lawyers for the author and the museum later filed a joint motion to end the suit, and the case was dismissed by a federal judge in February That same year, Lee allowed her famous work to be released as an e-book. She signed a deal with HarperCollins for the company to release To Kill a Mockingbird as an e-book and digital audio editions. In a release shared by the publisher, Lee explained: "I'm still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed and humbled that Mockingbird has survived this long.

This is Mockingbird for a new generation. Not a hope. We're talking unpaved streets here, and the Depression. Like her father, she went on to study law at the University of Alabama, but left for New York in before completing a degree. With dreams of pursuing a literary career, she wrote in her spare time while working as an airline reservations clerk.

In she delivered a manuscript for Watchman to her literary agent, who sold it on to the publishing house J. Lippincott Company. Her editor, Therese von Hohoff Torrey , immediately sensed the makings of a rare talent, but worked with Lee on reimagining the work through a series of drafts. Frustrated by her own attempts to reshape the book, Lee at one stage was said to have tearfully thrown the manuscript out the window, before her editor urged her to salvage it from the snowy street. What emerged was Mockingbird , a novel with the same characters as Watchman but set decades earlier and drastically revised.

Set in a fictional Alabama town during the Great Depression, Mockingbird followed the childhood adventures of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her brother Jem, and their neighborhood friend Dill Harris, a surrogate for Capote. As the children investigate their myserious neighbor, Boo Radley, Scout and Jem's lionhearted father, Atticus nobly defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.

Full of sage advice for his young daughter, Atticus instantly became an iconic literary paragon of wisdom and virtue. Some 80 weeks after its publication, still a national best-seller and a staple of reading lists across the country, the novel won Lee the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in A survey by the Book of the Month Club found Mockingbird ranked second only to the Bible in terms of "making a difference in people's lives.

It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold," Lee said of the novel's enormous success. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected.