Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary, Nelle!

To Kill A Mockingbird was published 50 years ago this month.
One of the classics.
The only book Nelle Harper Lee ever had published.
Nelle is now 84 years old.
What I wouldn't give to have one of my stories published--much less to celebrate it's 50th anniversary.

Southern Living magazine has a heartwarming article about Nelle and the anniversary celebration they're having in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Go read it. You'll learn some great stuff--like how Nelle hates being famous--and you'll smile a few times.

My favorite part of the article was near the end. Pat Dye was talking to Nelle and paying her one of the highest compliments you could give an author. He told her she wasn't smart enough to write a book like To Kill A Mockingbird

I know, at first that doesn't sound like a compliment, but maybe you'll understand once you hear the rest...
"Ain't nobody smart enough to write a book like that. To write a book like that you gotta write it with your heart, your soul, your guts, your passion. You can't write a book like that with just your brain."
Something for us writers to think about next time we sit down at our computers. Heart, Soul, Guts, Passion= A classic recipe for greatness.

Happy Anniversary, Nelle. You are an inspiration.

This just in: The royal Courtney, aka Southern Princess, is also celebrating TKAM's anniversary on her blog. AND she's giving away awesome prizes. Be sure to stop over and enter.


  1. So interesting/strange/sad though how she has never written another book. There are tons of theories of course: the book was so autobiographical and tough to write that it took too much out of her, she knew she could never write anything as good again so why bother, etc. The real reason is probably far less exciting than that, but it is a shame.

  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing this article today. To Kill a Mockingbird is such an amazing bopk - I love what Pat Dye said!

  3. You know, whereas I would love to write a classic, beloved novel, I would probably hate the fame that accompanies it, too. In that regard, I can certainly relate to her.

    Pat Dye's compliment is spot on! :)

  4. I live less than an hour from Monroeville, and it really is amazing to step into that town and see how they praise the book and's almost like you've stepped into the book itself!

  5. Oh, yes. Write from the gut, put your heart and soul into it. It's the only way to write true beauty. Lovely post, good lady.

  6. To be honest, I've never gotten the opportunity to read that book. In high school, our teachers picked some other reads, as well as some Canadian novels to read instead. I'll have to pick it up though, I hear it's great! *Adds to "To-read" list*

  7. That's amazing! I had the book read to me about 9 years ago or so but I need to read it again on my own at some stage. Thanks so much for sharing. It's good to learn things like this that I would otherwise be oblivious to.

  8. I've never read it and I'm thirty-six years AND a writer. How sad is that?

    I was doing other things in high school and hadn't thought about until recently. Thanks for mentioning it.

    I'm on my way to the library now to check it out and read it. I will then publish a post on my blog about the book and tell on myself about that being the first time I read it.

  9. Oh, The Catcher And The Rye? Haven't read that one either. I have a list, that one's on it.

  10. I never read TKAM until I was in my 40's. I had seen the movie, of course, but for some reason, was never required to read the book any of my many literature courses in high school or college. It's hard to say at this point, but I think I would have liked it just as well back then. It's one of those books that is accessible to everyone. Some people think it is a shame that Harper Lee never wrote anything again, but in my mind, if you can produce one great book that will stand up to the test of time forever, you've accomplished more than most people will in a lifetime!

  11. I didn't know her full name was Nellie.

    I'll admit I haven't read it. It wasn't required reading in school.

  12. Love this! To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite novels. I re-read it every couple years! I've also read Charles J. Shields' biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. It's an insightful and often surprising look into her life!

  13. Such an amazing accomplishment. How I dream of seeing a book I've published have its fiftieth anniversary. My book will be on its millionth edition and I'll be on my tenth face lift so that people will think I'm my own great grandchild...oh to dream....

  14. Like Laura, above, I've read the biography of Harper Lee and in that, you learn that she started writing two other books, but never finished them. No one knows why. She also helped her friend Truman Capote research IN COLD BLOOD (and possibly helped write it), but received no credit.

    Great post! TKAM is one of my all-time favorite novels.

  15. I read an article about To Kill a Mockingbird and how it might have a hard time getting the recognition today because it might fall into the YA category and they don't have get the awards that adult fiction gets. I think it was in my Entertainment Weekly magazine.

  16. Great post! TKAM is an amazing book and I don't know why it's not on my list of all-time favorites. I must correct the oversight immediately.

    TKAM stands in relief in large part because it's the only book Nelle ever finished. Had other works seen print, they would have been compared to TKAM and her talent dissected. How exquisite to have a perfect body of work - even if only a single book.

    BTW: I love the photograph of Nelle. If I were to imagine Scout at 84, that's exactly how she'd look.

  17. Okay I left a comment yesterday, but it's not here. What's interesting is that I just read an article suggesting that TKAMB wouldn't get the same recognition today as it did back then, because it would be considered YA, and they don't typically get the big awards.

    Food for thought.

  18. When I was forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird back in High School, I despised it because I HAD to read it. But now, looking back on it, it truly is a wonderful book!


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