Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was born in Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28th, 1926. Monroeville is a small town with a population of about 7,000, halfway between Montgomery and Mobile, and is the basis for Maycomb, the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper is a descendent of the Confederate Army Civil War Commander Robert E. Lee. Harper, youngest of four children, was born to Frances Lee and Amasa Lee. Frances was a newspaper editor, a senator, and a lawyer, and served as the basis for Atticus. Amasa's maiden name is Finch, which Lee used as the last name of the main characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Harper studied at Huntingdon college, a private school for women, from 1944-1945, then studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945-1949, where she did her first published writing for student papers. She left 6 months before completing her law degree, but was awarded an honorary degree later in life for To Kill a Mockingbird.
After leaving the University of Alabama, she spent one year at Oxford University as an exchange student. After returning from Oxford to New York, she worked as an airline reservation clerk with Eastern Airlines and British Overseas Airways during the 1950's. Unfortunately, her job kept her far too occupied to write, until friends offered her a loan large enough to be able to write full-time for a year. Harper quit her job at the airline, and spend the year writing the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.
In 1957, Lee submitted a To Kill a Mockingbird manuscript to the J. B. Lippincott Company. She was told that it consisted only of short stories loosely strung together, and was urged to revise it. Lee then took a two year period to revise...