Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Harper Lee

Harper Lee is Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 5, 2007

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. To view a clip from the upcoming documentary "Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird," click here.

Mockingbird: a Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields will be reviewed at R.E.A.D. book group on Thursday, September 2nd at 10 a.m. by Tammra Salisbury. It will also be part of the citywide read discussion at Bookenders book group on Wednesday, September 29th at 7 p.m. Carl Sederholm, a popular professor at Brigham Young University, will lead the discussion on To Kill a Mockingbird and Mockingbird: a Portrait of Harper Lee. 

To Kill a Mockingbird—the twentieth century’s most widely read American novel—has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite her book’s perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee, has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields brings to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature’s most unforgettable characters—Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout.

At the center of Shields’s evocative, lively book is the story of Lee’s struggle to create her famous novel, but her colorful life contains many highlights—her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father’s reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Truman Capote’s ally and research assistant to help report the story of In Cold Blood. Mockingbird—unique, highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart—is a wide-ranging, idiosyncratic portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

I Am Scout: the Biography of Harper Lee is the young adult version of Mockingbird: a Portrait of Harper Lee.

It's a perfect book for teens who loved To Kill a Mockingbird and want to find out more about the author.

Charles J Shields

Charles J. Shields spent four years researching and writing Mockingbird. A former English teacher who taught Harper Lee's novel for a number of years, he later became a writer of nonfiction books for young people. For Mockingbird, he interviewed over 600 of Harper Lee's neighbors, childhood friends, law school classmates, and Kansas residents who became her friends while she was there helping Truman Capote research In Cold Blood. As a result of Shields' research into Truman Capote's papers, the papers of Harper Lee's agent, and the archives in the courthouse and historical museum in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, information never before known appears in this insightful portrait of the Pulitzer prize-winning author, who stopped giving interviews in 1964. From her beginnings as an Alabama tomboy, to her novel's beginnings as a handful of stories, to a rough draft called Atticus, to its present form as one of the most popular books of the 20th century, the story of To Kill a Mockingbird and its author is told here for the first time.

Shields has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in American history from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where he was a James Scholar. He lives in central Virginia with his wife, Guadalupe. 

2010 Citywide Read at Pleasant Grove Library

2010 City-Wide Read Flyer

To enhance your reading, you will find a readers' guide here.