Harper Lee Popular Books

Harper Lee Biography & Facts

Nelle Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016) was an American novelist who wrote the 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird that won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and became a classic of modern American literature. She assisted her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood (1966). Her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, has been confirmed to be an earlier draft of Mockingbird but was published in July 2015 as a sequel.The plot and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird are loosely based on Lee's observations of her family and neighbors in Monroeville, Alabama, as well as a childhood event that occurred near her hometown in 1936. The novel deals with racist attitudes, the irrationality of adult attitudes towards race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s, as depicted through the eyes of two children. Lee received numerous accolades and honorary degrees, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, which was awarded for her contribution to literature. Early life Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, the youngest of four children of Frances Cunningham (née Finch) and Amasa Coleman Lee. Her parents chose her middle name, Harper, to honor pediatrician Dr. William W. Harper, of Selma, who had saved the life of her sister Louise. Her first name, Nelle, was her grandmother's name spelled backwards and the name she used, whereas Harper Lee was primarily her pen name. Lee's mother was a homemaker; her father was a former newspaper editor, businessman, and lawyer, who also served in the Alabama State Legislature from 1926 to 1938. Through her father, she was related to Confederate General Robert E. Lee and a member of the prominent Lee family. Before A.C. Lee became a title lawyer, he once defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, a father and son, were hanged.Lee's three siblings were Alice Finch Lee (1911–2014), Louise Lee Conner (1916–2009), and Edwin Lee (1920–1951). Although Nelle remained in contact with her significantly older sisters throughout their lives, only her brother was close enough in age to play with, though she bonded with Truman Capote (1924–1984), who visited family in Monroeville during the summers from 1928 until 1934.While enrolled at Monroe County High School, Lee developed an interest in English literature, in part through her teacher Gladys Watson, who became her mentor. After graduating high school in 1944, like her eldest sister Alice Finch Lee, Nelle attended the then all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery for a year, then transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she studied law for several years. Nelle also wrote for the university newspaper (The Crimson White) and a humor magazine (Rammer Jammer), but to her father's great disappointment, she left one semester short of completing the credit hours for a degree. In the summer of 1948, Lee attended a summer school program, "European Civilisation in the Twentieth Century", at Oxford University in England, financed by her father, who hoped—in vain, as it turned out—that the experience would make her more interested in her legal studies in Tuscaloosa. To Kill a Mockingbird I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers, but at the same time I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected. In 1949, Lee moved to New York City and took jobs—first at a bookstore, then as an airline reservation agent—while writing in her spare time. After publishing several long stories, Lee found an agent in November 1956; Maurice Crain would become a friend until his death decades later. The following month, at Michael Brown's East 50th Street townhouse, friends gave Lee a gift of a year's wages with a note: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." Origin In the spring of 1957, a 31-year-old Lee delivered the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman to Crain to send out to publishers, including the now-defunct J. B. Lippincott Company, which eventually bought it. At Lippincott, the novel fell into the hands of Therese von Hohoff Torrey—known professionally as Tay Hohoff. Hohoff was impressed. "[T]he spark of the true writer flashed in every line", she would later recount in a corporate history of Lippincott. But as Hohoff saw it, the manuscript was by no means fit for publication. It was, as she described it, "more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel". During the next couple of years, she led Lee from one draft to the next until the book finally achieved its finished form and was retitled To Kill a Mockingbird. Like many unpublished authors, Lee was unsure of her talents. "I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told," Lee said in a statement in 2015 about the evolution from Watchman to Mockingbird. Hohoff later described the process in Lippincott's corporate history: "After a couple of false starts, the story-line, interplay of characters, and fall of emphasis grew clearer, and with each revision—there were many minor changes as the story grew in strength and in her own vision of it—the true stature of the novel became evident." (In 1978, Lippincott was acquired by Harper & Row, which became HarperCollins which published Watchman in 2015.) Hohoff described the give and take between author and editor: "When she disagreed with a suggestion, we talked it out, sometimes for hours" ... "And sometimes she came around to my way of thinking, sometimes I to hers, sometimes the discussion would open up an entirely new line of country." One winter night, as Charles J. Shields recounts in Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, Lee threw her manuscript out her window and into the snow, before calling Hohoff in tears. Shields recollected that "Tay told her to march outside immediately and pick up the pages".When the novel was finally ready, the author opted to use the name "Harper Lee" rather than risk having her first name Nelle be misidentified as "Nellie".Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller, with more than 40 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a poll by the Library Journal. Autobiographical details in the novel Like Lee, the tomboy Scout in the novel is the daughter of a respected small-town Alabama attorney. Scout's friend, Dill Harris, was inspired by Lee's childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote; Lee, in turn, is the model for a character in Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, published in 1948. Although the plot of Lee's novel involves an unsuccessful legal defen.... Discover the Harper Lee popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Harper Lee books.

Best Seller Harper Lee Books of 2023

  • Last to Die synopsis, comments

    Last to Die

    James Grippando

    In an exciting new series that critics have called "John Grisham meets Robert Ludlum," Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck faces his biggest challenge yet.Tatum Knight is a ...

  • Prophecy synopsis, comments


    Peter James

    A game that turns to a nightmare ...Non Omnis MoriarI shall not altogether dieA young boy watches his mother die. A sadistic man dies in agony. Drunk students play with a Ouija boa...

  • Go Set a Watchman Teaching Guide synopsis, comments

    Go Set a Watchman Teaching Guide

    Harper Lee & Amy Jurskis

    Written in the 1950s but unpublished until recently, Go Set a Watchman is neither a prequel nor a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and attempting to read it as a simple continuatio...

  • The Education of Dixie Dupree synopsis, comments

    The Education of Dixie Dupree

    Donna Everhart

    IndieNext Pick  A remarkable debut from the author of The Saints of Swallow Hill, composed in a voice as sure and resonant as that of The Secret Life of Bees. This story ...

  • Alternating Current synopsis, comments

    Alternating Current

    Octavio Paz

    In its frontpage review of Alternating Current, The New York Times Book Review called Octavio Paz “an intellectual literary oneman band” for his ability to write incisively and wit...

  • Quicklet on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee synopsis, comments

    Quicklet on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Zachary Crockett

    Quicklets: Learn more. Read less.Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. Shortly thereafter, the book won the Pulitzer Prize and is now known as one of the greatest boo...

  • The Abduction synopsis, comments

    The Abduction

    James Grippando

    U.S. Attorney General Allison Leahy is the nation's top law enforcement officer and the Democrtas' best chance for holding on to the Oval Office. But she has powerful competition i...

  • Lying with Strangers synopsis, comments

    Lying with Strangers

    James Grippando

    A firstyear resident at a major Boston children's hospital, Peyton Shields finally has the career she's always dreamed ofeven though her marriage to Kevin, an upandcoming young law...

  • The Informant synopsis, comments

    The Informant

    James Grippando

    By the author of the bestselling The Pardon, this fastpaced novel teams a resourceful FBI agent and an embattled journalist in a hunt for two men a serial killer and his...

  • Mockingbird synopsis, comments


    Charles J. Shields

    An extensively revised and updated edition of the bestselling biography of Harper Lee, reframed from the perspective of the recent publication of Lee's Go Set a WatchmanTo Kill a M...

  • The History of Mary Prince synopsis, comments

    The History of Mary Prince

    Mary Prince & Sara Salih

    The History of Mary Prince (1831) was the first narrative of a black woman to be published in Britain. It describes Prince's sufferings as a slave in Bermuda, Turks Island and Anti...

  • The Betrothed synopsis, comments

    The Betrothed

    Alessandro Manzoni

    Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don...

  • Granite Island synopsis, comments

    Granite Island

    Dorothy Carrington

    'Get away from here before you're completely bewitched and enslaved...' Dorothy Carrington was told, while sitting in a fisherman's cafe at the magically quiet midday hour. But ens...

  • Scrublands synopsis, comments


    Chris Hammer

    In this searing, “indisputable pageturner” (Associated Press), a town’s dark secrets come to light in the aftermath of a young priest’s unthinkable last actin the vein of The Dry a...

  • Harper Lee synopsis, comments

    Harper Lee


    "Dive deep into the story of Harper Lee's life anywhere you go: on a plane, on a mountain, in a canoe, under a tree. Or grab a flashlight and read Shmoop under the covers. Shmoop's...

  • When Darkness Falls synopsis, comments

    When Darkness Falls

    James Grippando

    In the latest novel from the bestselling author whom critics have called "the thriller writer to watch," lawyer Jack Swyteck tackles a case in which the life of his best friend han...

  • Deliberate Cruelty synopsis, comments

    Deliberate Cruelty

    Roseanne Montillo

    This glittering, “wild romp of a story, boldly and beautifully told” (Neal Thompson, author of The First Kennedys) explores the darkly intertwined fates of infamous socialite Ann W...

  • Against Nature synopsis, comments

    Against Nature

    Joris-Karl Huysmans

    The hero of this curious novel is des Esseintes, a neurasthenic aristocrat who has turned his back on the vulgarity of modern life and retreated to an isolated country villa. Here,...

  • I Am Scout synopsis, comments

    I Am Scout

    Charles J. Shields

    To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime a...

  • Harper Lee Collection E-book Bundle synopsis, comments

    Harper Lee Collection E-book Bundle

    Harper Lee

    From celebrated Pulitzer Prizewinning author Harper Lee, her bestselling novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman available together in this convenient ebo...

  • Last Call synopsis, comments

    Last Call

    James Grippando

    A kid from Miami's meanest streets, Theo Knight lost his mother to a violent crime. He was on Death Row for a murder he didn't commit when lawyer Jack Swyteck proved him innocent. ...

  • Mockingbird Songs synopsis, comments

    Mockingbird Songs

    Wayne Flynt

    An indelible portrait of one of the most famous and beloved authors in the canon of American literaturea collection of letters between Harper Lee and one of her closest friends tha...

  • Host synopsis, comments


    Peter James

    How far would you go to live forever?Brilliant scientist Joe Messenger believes that people can be made to live for ever. Knowing the human body can be frozen indefinitely, Joe dev...

  • Blood Money synopsis, comments

    Blood Money

    James Grippando

    New York Times bestselling author James Grippando delivers a powerful, nonstop thrill ride ripped from the headlines. Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck is back in h...

  • Lives of Roman Christian Women synopsis, comments

    Lives of Roman Christian Women

    Carolinne White

    'Perpetua shouted out with joy as the sword pierced her, for she wanted to taste some of the pain and she even guided the hesitant hand of the trainee gladiator towards her own thr...

  • Possession synopsis, comments


    Peter James

    A terrifying novel of a young man who is willing to defy everything. Even death...Fabian Hightower has been killed in a car crash. At least, that is what a policeman is asking Alex...

  • The Promise of the Pelican synopsis, comments

    The Promise of the Pelican

    Roy Hoffman

    For fans of Harper Lee and Rita Mae Brown, Roy Hoffman's new novel is steeped in a sense of placecoastal Alabamawith its rich tapestry of characters caught in a web of justice not ...

  • Bodily Harm synopsis, comments

    Bodily Harm

    Robert Dugoni

    New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni returns with his most exhilarating legal thriller to date, a pulsepounding story of corporate greed, espionage, and the lengths one ...

  • MatchUp synopsis, comments


    Lee Child

    This “highly recommended” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) collection edited by New York Times bestselling author Lee Child pairs the beloved characters of twentytwo internation...

  • Cash Landing synopsis, comments

    Cash Landing

    James Grippando

    The New York Times bestselling author of Cane and Abe and Black Horizon blends Goodfellas and Elmore Leonard in this wild, suspenseful caper inspired by actual events, in which a b...

  • Wonderworks synopsis, comments


    Angus Fletcher

    This “fascinating” (Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times bestselling author of Outliers) examination of literary inventions through the ages, from ancient Mesopotamia to Elena Ferrante...

  • Born to Run synopsis, comments

    Born to Run

    James Grippando

    “[A] thrillaminute novel.”USA TodayJack Swyteck is back in action in Born to Runthe eighth outing for the dangerprone Miami lawyer in author James Grippando’s New York Times bestse...

  • Gone Again synopsis, comments

    Gone Again

    James Grippando

    Winner of the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal FictionFrom the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Cash Landing, Cane & Abe, and Black Horizon, James Grippan...

  • Need You Now synopsis, comments

    Need You Now

    James Grippando

    New York Times bestseller James Grippando returns with a gripping new standalone novel: a story ripped from the headlines, in which a young financial adviser and his girlfriend unc...

  • The Mockingbird Next Door synopsis, comments

    The Mockingbird Next Door

    Marja Mills

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel’s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almo...

  • Cane and Abe synopsis, comments

    Cane and Abe

    James Grippando

    A spellbinding novel of suspense from New York Times bestselling author James Grippando, in which Miami’s top prosecutor becomes a prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, which ...

  • To Kill a Mockingbird Summary synopsis, comments

    To Kill a Mockingbird Summary


    To Kill a Mockingbird A Complete Summary Scout and Jem Finch are growing up in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, with their father, Atticus, who is a local lawyer. Times are hard and ...

  • The Devil and Harper Lee synopsis, comments

    The Devil and Harper Lee

    Mark Seal

    In the 1970s, a mysterious man captivated and terrorized a small Alabama town. He was elegant and handsome, a charismatic pastor and leader in the African American community. But r...

  • Panic Room synopsis, comments

    Panic Room

    Robert Goddard

    ‘Is this his best yet?...Full of sinister menace and propulsive pace with twisty plotting’ Lee ChildWHAT REALLY LIES WITHIN?High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast uninhabited mansion....

  • Furious Hours synopsis, comments

    Furious Hours

    Casey Cep

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER This “superbly written truecrime story” (The New York Times Book Review) masterfully brings together the tales of a serial killer in 1970s Ala...

  • Harper Lee synopsis, comments

    Harper Lee

    Kerry Madden-Lunsford

    Read Kerry Madden's posts on the Penguin Blog.Nelle Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and became an instant bestseller. Two years later it was an A...

  • The Life of Samuel Johnson synopsis, comments

    The Life of Samuel Johnson

    James Boswell & David Womersley

    In Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, one of the towering figures of English literature is revealed with unparalleled immediacy and originality. While Johnson’s Dictionary remains a...

  • Gone with the Wind synopsis, comments

    Gone with the Wind

    Margaret Mitchell

    'My dear, I don't give a damn.'Margaret Mitchell’s pageturning, sweeping American epic has been a classic for over eighty years. Beloved and thought by many to be the greatest of t...