Today I saw in the news that Harper Lee had passed away.
Harper Lee was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird which is one of the best known American novels. Of course, it was also the book that the classic movie starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch was based on.
The movie won an Academy Award. Of course since both are major award winners in their format you could ask the question. Which is better the movie or the book? I will go with the book
I knew that I had at least a couple copies of the book on my shelves. One of them is a recent paperback that I picked up because I liked the cover. The other one that I quickly found was from 1985 and is the 25th anniversary paperback. I think I have at least one more copy hidden in my stacks somewhere.
The classic, unforgettable novel about growing up in the South, and the human values and rights that belong to us all.
Last year a earlier draft version of To Kill a Mockingbird was released. Go Set a Watchman was set 20 years later with Scout coming back to Maycomb to visit her father Atticus and recalling the events of the past. Fortunately the draft was almost entirely rewritten before Harper Lee released it as To Kill a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird was on Mr. Hill’s Novel List along with 17 other Pulitzer Prize winners.
Mr. Hill was one of my high school English teachers and has continued to have a great influence on both my personal and professional life. I think of him often when I am writing and remember the things that he taught us.
To me To Kill a Mockingbird is a great example of what type of novel should win the Pulitzer Prize.
Annually, for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the whole atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood, One thousand dollars ($1,000).
The statement above is from the will of Joseph Pulitzer. The requirements have changed since that time and to me they no longer represent Pulitzer’s original intent.
For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Unfortunately in the past several years several books have won that do not represent life in America. I hope that this year the committee will select a book that meets the original intent of Pulitzer’s will.
I may have to reread To Kill a Mockingbird sometime soon.