Harper Lee Biography Born Nelle Harper Lee (1926 -
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Harper Lee Biography Born Nelle Harper Lee (1926 - ) Writer. Born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee Harper is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) — her one and only novel. The youngest of four children, she grew up as a tomboy in a small town. Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature, and also owned part of the local newspaper. For most of Lee ' s life, her mother suffered from mental illness, rarely leaving the house. It is believed that she may have had bipolar disorder.One of her closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote (then known as Truman Persons). Tougher than many of the boys, Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman ' s protector. Truman, who shared few interests with boys his age, was picked on for being a sissy and for the fancy clothes he wore. While the two friends were very different, they both shared in having difficult home lives. Truman was living with his mother ' s relatives in town after largely being abandoned by his own parents. In high school, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating in 1944, she went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Lee stood apart from the other students — she could have cared less about fashion, makeup, or dating. Instead, she focused on her studies and on her writing. Lee was a member of the literary honor society and the glee club. 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 . She eventually became the editor of the Rammer Jammer . 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 editor of the Rammer Jammer . After her first year in the law program, Lee began expressing to her family that writing — not the law — was her true calling. She went to Oxford University in England that summer as an exchange student. Returning to her law studies that fall, Lee dropped out after the first semester. She soon moved to New York City to follow her dreams to become a writer. In 1949, a 23-year-old Lee arrived in New York City. She struggled for several years, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp (BOAC). While in the city, Lee was reunited with old friend Truman Capote, one of the literary rising stars of the time. She also befriended Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy. In 1956, 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 the publishing firm interested in her first novel, which was first titled Go Set a Watchman , then Atticus , and later To Kill a Mockingbird . Working with editor Tay Hohoff, Lee finished the manuscript in 1959. Later that year, Lee joined forces with old friend Truman 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 easy-going, unpretentious manner. Truman, with his flamboyant personality and style, also had a hard time initially getting himself into his subjects '
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