Monday, 17 August 2015

Writing - Things we didn't know about Harper Lee

Should be a food blog today but I didn't cook much this weekend. I was pondering what to do when I came across an article about author of 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' - Harper Lee.

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Both the book and the film were tremendously successful even to the point where Sky often repeat the film so many years on. But in a Radio 4 interview she shared some interesting facts about her life.

1. When journalists approach her for an interview, her standard response is “Not just no, but hell no”.

2. 750,000 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird are sold a year. In one typical six-month period alone she earned $1,688,064.68 in royalties.

3. She used to play the slot machines in a casino on a Native American reservation where no-one knew who she was.

4. Her best friend, at age 5, was Truman Parsons, whom she defended from bullies. He changed his name to Truman Capote and they remained lifelong friends.

5. She smoked a pipe at university.

6. As a child her most treasured possession was an Underwood's typewriter given to her and Truman by her father. They dragged it everywhere and wrote stories on it.

7. She worked as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and later at the British Overseas Air Corporation.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird was only written because some friends, the Browns, proposed, as a Christmas present in 1956, that they pay her living expenses for a year so she could write full time.

9. She wrote to Spencer Tracy inviting him to consider the role of Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. He was tied into another film and couldn’t do it.

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In many ways quite an ordinary set of reactions to many life situations. People protect one another at times at school, they experiment with all types of things at college and university and they take on jobs to get them by. I worked at a brewery, as an ice cream van driver, postman and delivery driver at various times, until I was firmly established in the teaching profession. Quite refreshing that all of the money never blunted her human needs and values.

Harper Lee's second novel 'Go Set A Watchman', published this year, is in effect the prequel to 'Mockingbird' as it was written first and she considers it the 'parent' of her famous novel.

God Bless