I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

Charles J. Shields

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1250082218

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. Lee's life is as rich as her fiction, from her girlhood as a rebellious tomboy to her days at the University of Alabama and early years as a struggling writer in New York City.

Charles J. Shields is the author of the New York Times bestselling biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, which he has adapted here for younger readers. What emerges in this riveting portrait is the story of an unconventional, high-spirited woman who drew on her love of writing and her Southern home to create a book that continues to speak to new generations of readers. Anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird or Go Set a Watchman will appreciate this glimpse into the life of its fascinating author, which includes photographs of Harper Lee, her family, and the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck.

I Am Scout is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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black-white sexual relations is obvious; and the courage of the two highly skilled attorneys who finally won the case for the Scottsboro Boys can be grafted onto Atticus Finch. The trouble is, the scope of those trials was too big, too excessive for Nelle’s purposes. In her novel she wanted “to leave some record of the kind of life that existed in a very small world,” she later told an interviewer.22 The courtroom scene of Atticus defending Tom Robinson from a false charge of rape, for example,

hard times. In his early 30s, Walter had done less than ten years in the state prison farm in Tunnel Springs, Alabama, draining swamps and cutting roads through wooded areas. The length of his sentence suggests that he was convicted of drunkenness or fighting. Naomi, 25, had drifted into Monroe County with her husband, Ira, and son. They were too poor to afford even a radio.25 Regardless, Naomi was white, and her word mattered more than a black laborer’s. Walter desperately protested that he

1960 before his trial. (AP photo) Smith’s partner Dick Hickock was talkative and friendly. “Never seen anyone so poised, relaxed, free & easy in the face of four 1st-degree murder charges,” Nelle marveled in her notes. (AP photo) Alvin Dewey, a detective on the Clutter case, helped Nelle and Truman gain inside information about the investigation as it unfolded. (Corbis) And there were key people who refused to be interviewed under any circumstances; they’d had their fill of reporters

for the novel only if Alice and A. C. Lee approved of the people involved as much as Nelle. Whoever was chosen to turn the novel into a film had to come across as decent and trustworthy. Her father and sister had arrived at the To Kill a Mockingbird party late, so to speak; but once it was clear that Nelle had achieved something grand, Mr. Lee and Alice—increasingly Alice as A. C. Lee’s health declined—were taking over her affairs. Previously, when Nelle was working in New York full-time as an

In addition, he was undersized, which he could do nothing about. Compared with his classmates, he was the smallest by far—doll-like, with a baby’s pudgy gumdrop softness. Even Nelle, who was younger, “was bigger than Truman. Lots bigger,” said another of Truman’s aunts, Mary Ida Carter.3 And much to other children’s disgust, Truman threw tantrums like a two-year-old. In the throes of one, he would scream until he turned purple, fall down, and kick his legs in the air. No amount of cooing,

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