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Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

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Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee Cover

ISBN13: 9780805079197
ISBN10: 080507919x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"A biographer needs to shape the stories of a life into a narrative that makes sense. Shields's biography is noteworthy only because it is the first. That a better one will emerge is inevitable so long as To Kill a Mockingbird remains compulsory reading for every twelve-year-old in America." Deborah Friedell, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The colorful life of the remarkable woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird — the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans

To Kill a Mockingbird, the twentieth-century's most widely read American novel, has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite the book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields has brought to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters — Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout — and who contributed to the success of her lifelong friend Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

At the center of Shields's lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel. But her life contains many other highlights as well: her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father's reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Capote's ally and research assistant to help report the story of the Clutter murders; the surrogate family she found in New York City.

Drawing on six hundred interviews and much new information, Mockingbird is the first book ever written about Harper Lee. Highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart, this is an evocative portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

Review:

"Few novels are as beloved and acclaimed as To Kill a Mockingbird and even fewer authors have shunned the spotlight as successfully as its author. Although journalist Shields interviewed 600 of Harper Lee's acquaintances and researched the papers of her childhood friend Truman Capote, he is no match for the elusive Lee, who stopped granting interviews in 1965 and wouldn't talk to him. Much of this first full-length biography of Lee is filled with inconsequential anecdotes focusing on the people around her, while the subject remains stubbornly out of focus. Shields enlivens Lee's childhood by pointing out people who were later fictionalized in her novel. The book percolates during her banner year of 1960, when she won the Pulitzer Prize and helped Capote research In Cold Blood. Capote's papers yield some of Lee's fascinating first-person insights on the emotionally troubled Clutter family that were tempered in his book. Shields believes Lee abandoned her second novel when her agents and her editor — her surrogate family in publishing — died or left the business, leaving her with no support system. There's a tantalizing anecdote about a true-crime project Lee was researching in the mid-'80s that faded away. Sputtering to a close, the final chapter covers the last 35 years in 24 pages. It's also baffling that this affectionate biography ends with three paragraphs devoted to someone slamming her classic work. (June 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The best chapter details how Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote went to Kansas to research the crime and its aftermath that would later become In Cold Blood." Library Journal

Review:

"Charles Shields is a former English teacher who taught Harper Lee's book, and a scrupulous journalist who respects the lady's privacy even as he opens up her life. This biography will not disappoint those who loved the novel and the feisty, independent, fiercely loyal Scout, in whom Harper Lee put so much of herself." Garrison Keillor

Review:

"The biography's strengths are all the ways it brings together pieces of Lee's life to form the portrait of its subtitle....The biography may leave readers wanting more, but it conveys a fuller sense of Lee's life and times worth having." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Though the flattering biography is unauthorized...Shields' painstaking research does a great job in bringing out the complexity of Lee's character." Seattle Times

Review:

"An informative and genial biography that literary fiction lovers will flock to." Booklist

Review:

"There are many pages about Lee's collaboration with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood...with some attention to Capote's jealousy of Lee's success and his petty failure to acknowledge the great contributions she made." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

The colorful life of the remarkable, rarely written-about woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird — the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans.

Synopsis:

"A fine, well-rounded portrait of Harper Lee. Mockingbird is good reading."—Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

To Kill a Mockingbird—the twentieth century's most widely read American novel—has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite her book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee, has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields brings to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters—Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout.

At the center of Shields's evocative, lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel, but her colorful life contains many highlights—her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father's reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Truman Capote's ally and research assistant to help report the story of In Cold Blood. Mockingbird—unique, highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart—is a wide-ranging, idiosyncratic portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

Synopsis:

The colorful life of the remarkable woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird--the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans

To Kill a Mockingbird, the twentieth-century's most widely read American novel, has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite the book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields has brought to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters--Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout--and who contributed to the success of her lifelong friend Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

At the center of Shields's lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel. But her life contains many other highlights as well: her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father's reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Capote's ally and research assistant to help report the story of the Clutter murders; the surrogate family she found in New York City.

Drawing on six hundred interviews and much new information, Mockingbird is the first book ever written about Harper Lee. Highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart, this is an evocative portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

About the Author

A former English teacher who taught Harper Lee's novel for years, Charles J. Shields has a BA in English and an MA in American history from the University of Illinois, where he was a James Scholar. The author of many widely praised books for young people, he spent four years researching Mockingbird in Alabama, New York, and Kansas, speaking to hundreds of Lee's neighbors, friends, classmates, and culling facts from the archives of Truman Capote and other collections, as well as papers from the Monroe County (Alabama) courthouse and historical museum. He lives in central Virginia with his wife.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Marlene Head, June 17, 2009 (view all comments by Marlene Head)
I first read "To Kill a Mockingbird" as a Readers Digest selection when I was 12 years old. To say it made an impact on me is an understatement. But for all these years I've never known anything about Harper Lee--better known among her friends and family as Nelle. The book doesn't disappoint--filling in her childhood and her relationship with Truman Capote and their time together doing research for his book "In Cold Blood"--so much as simply leave me wanting more . . . in her own words.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
yellowbird, November 23, 2006 (view all comments by yellowbird)
This book is a total and poorly written lie. I live in Monroeville, know Nell and knew Truman. Don't believe a word of this garbage and don't waste your money on this book of fiction. Wait for the real thing......
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(12 of 67 readers found this comment helpful)
wes921, September 30, 2006 (view all comments by wes921)
I couldn't put the book down once I started reading. I hadn't realized that so many of the characters and events in To Kill a Mockingbird were based on her life in Monroeville, Alabama. Until I saw the movie, Capote, I did not know about Lee's relationship with Capote, so reading more about their investigation of the Kansas murders was especially interesting. Afer finishing the book, I realized that Nelle Harper Lee was actually the Mockingbird--the exposure and notoriety that came to her after writing her first book may have been the main reason she never wrote another novel. However, I wonder if there will be writings that will be discovered later--when she will not have to hear any comparisons with her beloved first book.
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(16 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805079197
Subtitle:
A Portrait of Harper Lee
Author:
Shields, Charles J.
Publisher:
Holt Paperbacks
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Women
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Lee, Harper
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
May 30, 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 8-pg insert
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805079197 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Few novels are as beloved and acclaimed as To Kill a Mockingbird and even fewer authors have shunned the spotlight as successfully as its author. Although journalist Shields interviewed 600 of Harper Lee's acquaintances and researched the papers of her childhood friend Truman Capote, he is no match for the elusive Lee, who stopped granting interviews in 1965 and wouldn't talk to him. Much of this first full-length biography of Lee is filled with inconsequential anecdotes focusing on the people around her, while the subject remains stubbornly out of focus. Shields enlivens Lee's childhood by pointing out people who were later fictionalized in her novel. The book percolates during her banner year of 1960, when she won the Pulitzer Prize and helped Capote research In Cold Blood. Capote's papers yield some of Lee's fascinating first-person insights on the emotionally troubled Clutter family that were tempered in his book. Shields believes Lee abandoned her second novel when her agents and her editor — her surrogate family in publishing — died or left the business, leaving her with no support system. There's a tantalizing anecdote about a true-crime project Lee was researching in the mid-'80s that faded away. Sputtering to a close, the final chapter covers the last 35 years in 24 pages. It's also baffling that this affectionate biography ends with three paragraphs devoted to someone slamming her classic work. (June 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "A biographer needs to shape the stories of a life into a narrative that makes sense. Shields's biography is noteworthy only because it is the first. That a better one will emerge is inevitable so long as To Kill a Mockingbird remains compulsory reading for every twelve-year-old in America." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "The best chapter details how Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote went to Kansas to research the crime and its aftermath that would later become In Cold Blood."
"Review" by , "Charles Shields is a former English teacher who taught Harper Lee's book, and a scrupulous journalist who respects the lady's privacy even as he opens up her life. This biography will not disappoint those who loved the novel and the feisty, independent, fiercely loyal Scout, in whom Harper Lee put so much of herself."
"Review" by , "The biography's strengths are all the ways it brings together pieces of Lee's life to form the portrait of its subtitle....The biography may leave readers wanting more, but it conveys a fuller sense of Lee's life and times worth having."
"Review" by , "Though the flattering biography is unauthorized...Shields' painstaking research does a great job in bringing out the complexity of Lee's character."
"Review" by , "An informative and genial biography that literary fiction lovers will flock to."
"Review" by , "There are many pages about Lee's collaboration with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood...with some attention to Capote's jealousy of Lee's success and his petty failure to acknowledge the great contributions she made."
"Synopsis" by , The colorful life of the remarkable, rarely written-about woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird — the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans.
"Synopsis" by , "A fine, well-rounded portrait of Harper Lee. Mockingbird is good reading."—Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

To Kill a Mockingbird—the twentieth century's most widely read American novel—has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite her book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee, has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields brings to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters—Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout.

At the center of Shields's evocative, lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel, but her colorful life contains many highlights—her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father's reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Truman Capote's ally and research assistant to help report the story of In Cold Blood. Mockingbird—unique, highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart—is a wide-ranging, idiosyncratic portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

"Synopsis" by ,
The colorful life of the remarkable woman who created To Kill a Mockingbird--the classic that became a touchstone for generations of Americans

To Kill a Mockingbird, the twentieth-century's most widely read American novel, has sold thirty million copies and still sells a million yearly. Yet despite the book's perennial popularity, its creator, Harper Lee has become a somewhat mysterious figure. Now, after years of research, Charles J. Shields has brought to life the warmhearted, high-spirited, and occasionally hardheaded woman who gave us two of American literature's most unforgettable characters--Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout--and who contributed to the success of her lifelong friend Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

At the center of Shields's lively book is the story of Lee's struggle to create her famous novel. But her life contains many other highlights as well: her girlhood as a tomboy in overalls in tiny Monroeville, Alabama; the murder trial that made her beloved father's reputation and inspired her great work; her journey to Kansas as Capote's ally and research assistant to help report the story of the Clutter murders; the surrogate family she found in New York City.

Drawing on six hundred interviews and much new information, Mockingbird is the first book ever written about Harper Lee. Highly entertaining, filled with humor and heart, this is an evocative portrait of a writer, her dream, and the place and people whom she made immortal.

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