|Plot Summary of Mockingbird, A Portrait of Harper Lee|
|"Charles Shields wrote this biography without the cooperation of Harper Lee. He notes that she is an intensely private person. He felt it important to tell her story while people who know her are still alive.
He begins with her childhood in depression era Monroeville, Alabama. This is the inspiration for the fictional town of Maycomb in "To Kill a Mockingbird." The parallels between the actual place, events, and people and the fictional are very apparent. He describes her parents' background. Her father A.C. the model for Atticus Finch was a man of high principles whose attitude about racial equality developed over time. Her mother suffered from what the family called a "nervous disorder" possibly bipolar disease, and was emotionally distant from Harper Lee.
Lee's relationship with Truman Capote is thoroughly explored. The two grew up together, and he is the model for Dill in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Lee assisted him with research and interviews for his book "In Cold Blood," but due to his envy of Lee's success, did not give her credit.
Shields follows her writing career. She decided to quit law school, and go to NYC to write, greatly disappointing her father. She scraped along barely getting by much less finding adequate time to write until her friends Michael and Joy Brown loaned her money to write full time for a year. She became very close to her agents, Maurice Crain for literary, Annie Laurie Williams for the movie screen. They were instrumental in helpin Lee develop her manuscript.
The years after the great success of the book and movie are discussed. It was Lee's intention to write another book, but the demands of being a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the needs of her family kept interfering. The few short stories and magazine articles she did write did not match the quality of her first book, and seemed to repeat the same elements. Lee finally decided to let it go.
She never married, and lives with her older sister Alice, a lawyer. Both women are very involved in the Monroeville, Alabama community. Lee has maintained an apartment in NYC throughout her adult life. "
Susan Coffey, Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of Mockingbird, A Portrait of Harper Lee|
Our unique search engine provides a wealth of detail about books by breaking them down into many different literary elements, all of which are searchable (click here).
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Period of greatest activity?
Subject of Biography
Biography of famous person?
- American (!)
How sensitive is this person?
- sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Cynical sense of humor
- Genius (really!)
- average physique
How much descriptions of surroundings?
- 5 ()
- Deep South
Small town people:
- nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee
- dumb Rednecks, like Gomer Pyle
- mostly 3rd
Accounts of torture and death?
- generic/vague references to death/punishment
Book makes you feel?
Writer's slant towards subject:
- very favorable
Story of entire life, or part?
- story of nearly entire life
If this is a kid's book:
- Age 16-Adult
- A lot 11-15 B&W
How much dialogue in bio?
- roughly even amounts of descript and dialog
How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?
- 26-50% of book
Click here for more information about this book
Charles J. Shields Resident Scholar Profiles|
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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