“To Kill A Mockingbird” Turns 50

Fifty years ago yesterday Harper Lee published To Kill A Mockingbird. The book and subsequent movie hold a unique memory for me, which I will explain later. Harper Lee was born and raised in Alabama during a time of extreme, racial discrimination in the United States.

Strangely, she only published one novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird. The book highlights the struggle between blacks and whites in a small Alabama town, much like the one Lee grew up in. In 1962 the powerful story was made into a powerful movie starring Gregory Peck. Peck won an Oscar for his performance in the movie, as did the screenplay.

The novel is thought to have many autobiographical details, one of which is the character Dill. Dill is a feminine boy who is the best friend of the book’s main character, Scout.

Now here is my personal note… While earning my master’s degree I took a seminar in William Faulkner (never really liked him). The professor who taught the class was from from Alabama and a friend of Harper Lee’s. This professor claimed to be the inspiration for the character Dill in To Kill A Mockingbird. I know, most critics believe the model for Dill was author Truman Capote, who grew up with Lee and maintained a life-long friendship with her.

And this professor I had, he also claimed he drank with Hemingway in Paris (and we know how much Hemingway could drink). But, I always found his Dill assertion interesting…because he reminded me of Truman Capote.

In the video below Dill is wearing light colored shorts in most of the pictures.