To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s first novel, was released to widespread acclaim on this day in 1960. Based partially on her childhood, the book explored issues such as racism and sexism during World War Two in a fictional town in Alabama. The book became an instant classic, as the issues were very much present in 1960’s America, when people like Martin Luther King, Jr. led the civil rights movement. Harper Lee went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for her book in 1961, and eventually won the Medal of Freedom from U.S. President George W. Bush. In 1962, the film adaptation of her book was released, becoming a classic American film that would go on to win three Academy Awards, and featuring the debut of the careers of famous stars such as Robert Duvall. To Kill a Mockingbird made Lee rise to fame, but after 1964 she began to hide away from the spotlight, and returned to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. It remained her only published book, until the release of her original manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman. The book is used in educational settings such as schools and libraries, teaching about equality and issues that were present in the throughout the 20th century and today.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”-Harper Lee