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Harper Lee Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

In the 1980s, a reporter and a photographer tracked down Harper Lee's address and knocked on her door. When she answered, they requested that she autograph a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee was perturbed but complied with the request, signing the book "Best wishes, Harper Lee." After telling her visitors "I hope you're more polite to other people" and "Next time try to be more thoughtful," they thanked her and she smiled. "You're quite welcome," she replied.12

The book's use of racial epithets (which, it should be mentioned, were common at the time in which the book takes place) has made it among the American Library Association's most frequently-challenged and -banned books.13

Among the famously private writer's few public appearances was regular attendance at the Honors College at the University of Alabama's annual luncheon. This event honors the winners of a student essay contest dedicated to Lee's work.14

In 2006, members of the British Museum, Libraries and Archives Council voted To Kill A Mockingbird as the number one book that every adult should read before they die. The Bible was number two.15

Two back-to-back biographical films of Truman Capote were released in 2005 and 2006, with actresses Catherine Keener and Sandra Bullock playing Lee. After the release of both movies, Lee was deluged with a fresh round of interview requests. In response to a suggestion that she write a form letter declining interviews, Lee joked that the letter would just say "Hell, no."16

David Kipen, director of The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts venture, pledged to eat a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird if any of the residents of Ohio's 131-resident Kelleys Island don't read the book, as of March 2009. Luckily, by May 2009, he had not had to go through with that pledge.17

Nelle, Lee's actual first name, is her grandmother Ellen's name spelled backward.18

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