“Nelle” Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, the
youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee
and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee.
She grew up in Monroeville, a small
town in southwest Alabama.
She attended Huntingdon College, a
private school for women in
Montgomery for a year and then
transferred to the University of
In 1960 with the help of Lippincott
editor Tay Hohoff, To Kill a
Mockingbird was published.
A year after To Kill a Mockingbird was published, 500,000
copies had been sold and it had been
translated into 10 languages.
The Great Depression (1930s)
The Great Depression started
in the United States after a
major fall in stock prices that
began around September 4,
Half of all banks failed. Unemployment rose
to 25 percent and homelessness increased.
Housing prices plummeted by 30 percent and
international trade collapsed by 60 percent.
Wages for those who still had jobs fell 42 percent. Average family
incomes dropped 40 percent from $2,300 in 1929 to $1,500 in
It took 25 years for the stock market to recover.
Civil Rights Movement (1960s)
It was a struggle for social justice that took
place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for
blacks to gain equal rights under the law in
the United States.
On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000
people, black and white, congregated in
Washington, D. C. for the peaceful march
with the main purpose of forcing civil
rights legislation and establishing job
equality for everyone (March on
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it guaranteed equal
employment for all, limited the use of voter literacy tests and allowed federal
authorities to ensure public facilities were integrated.
United States Supreme Court made segregation
illegal in public schools in the case of Brown v.
Board of Education.
Rosa Parks’ courage in refusing to give up her seat to a white man
encouraged a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. It lasted 381 days
until segregated seating was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme
To Kill a Mockingbird
The book was almost called Atticus — a nod to the
noble-minded and kind Atticus Finch, who plays
such a pivotal role in the story.
Atticus Finch was inspired by Harper Lee’s
father, who worked as a lawyer and once
defended two African-American men
accused of murder.
The fictional town of Maycomb is modeled after Harper Lee's
hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.
Go Set a Watchman was actually a draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird was honored with many awards including the Pulitzer Prize
for fiction in 1961 and was made into a film in 1962 starring Gregory Peck.
Segregation in the South
Laws prohibited blacks from
being present in certain locations.
Jim Crow laws were established in the South in the late
19th century. Blacks couldn’t use the same public
facilities as whites, live in many of the same towns or go to
the same schools.
Interracial marriage was illegal, and most blacks couldn’t vote
because they were unable to pass voter literacy tests.
Signs were used to
where they could
legally walk, talk,
drink, rest, or eat.
John Crow laws were meant to
establish the right of white
Americans to treat African
Americans 'separate, but