Harper Lee

Harper Lee
Age Range
Release Date
March 19, 2009
Buy This Book
Nelle Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and became an instant bestseller. Two years later it was an Academy Award– winning film. Today, it remains standard—and beloved—reading in English classes. But Lee never wanted “the book” to define who she was, which explains her aversion to any kind of publicity. Kerry Madden conducted extensive research for this Up Close biography, which reveals Lee to be a down-to-earth Southern woman who enjoys baseball games and playing golf—and whose one and only published book happened to win the Pulitzer Prize.

User reviews

1 review
Already have an account? or Create an account
A Rare Portrait
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Reader reviewed by Julie M. Prince

To Kill a Mockingbird is so well-known that its rare to run across any adult who is not familiar with at least the movie, if not the book written by Harper Lee. Many people think of Lee as being a reclusea one-book-wonder, even. But, it is actually these things that make people yearn for more information about the author. Why doesnt she have a public persona? Why has she published only one book, when that one is so successful and so famous?

Kerry Madden has taken on the challenge of answering these and other questions in her Harper Lee biography from the Up Close series. Madden carefully explains from the beginning that Nelle Harper Lee is not a believer of biographies about people still livingwhich Lee still is, albeit in her eighties now. So the author lives shielded from the press. She declined an interview by Madden (and every other similar request, with a rare exception, and even then conditionally).

It is extraordinary to me, knowing this, that Kerry Madden was able to unearth as much information about Lee as she did. Exhaustive interviews with childhood friends and neighbors (the few willing to talk about Lee) during visits to Lees home town show just how much effort went into the research.

The research paid off, as the biography flows along in a friendly, narrative fashion designed to make readers feel as though theyre privy to the inside scoop about Lees life and writing career. Nelle Harper Lee may live quietly, but she lives large, just as the biography conveys. Brava to Kerry Madden for taking on a difficult subject and doing so in a respectful manner, while still being true to her own readers and their cravings for details.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0