AUTHOR SUNDAY – Alabama is proud of our native Alabama lady, Miss Harper Lee

Note: This story was written in 2015 before Harper Lee passed away.

Alabama is proud of our native Alabama lady, Miss Harper Lee who wrote, To Kill a Mockingbird over fifty years ago. Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, and attended the University of Alabama intending to become a lawyer like her father. She changed her mind and began writing.

Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in Washington, D.C.Harper lee

Harper Lee wrote the novel which was published in 1960. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. This is the only book she had published until 2015.

Made into a movie

The novel was made into a movie in 1962. “To Kill Mockingbird” stared Gregory Peck for which he won an academy award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. Birmingham’s own Mary Badham and Phillip Alford played Scout and Jem. It was thought that Harper Lee used Monroeville as her model for the southern town of Maycomb in the 1930s. The storyline was about racial prejudices in the south and the search for justice.Atticus Finch and Tom

Attended a play in Monroeville

I had the opportunity of attending the play of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in Monroeville. We went on a bus trip with Hoover’s New Horizons. We left Birmingham at 1:00 PM for a drive of over 3 hours down I-65, turning off to the right into southwest Alabama. While en route, we watched the movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Our leader even had a number of trivia questions for us.

The stop for dinner was at Radley’s Fountain Grille (was it named after Boo Radley’s character?) The young man who did cleanup at the restaurant after dinner told me his step-dad played Atticus Finch but was not performing this night.

Sat outside on a spring night

It was a beautiful warm spring night. We arrived at the courthouse and were seated outside in comfortable redwood chairs on the lawn adjacent to the courthouse. The crowd was about 250 people. The stage setting for the first three acts was outside the courthouse with fronts of three houses. After a fifteen-minute intermission, the call came for twelve men to act as the jury and they were the first to enter the courthouse.

Local actors performed

This play is put on by volunteer amateur actors from the surrounding small towns. There are two actors for each character in the play. They started practicing in February and the play is presented in April and May. The program told us what each actor did in their “real life”. Atticus was a banker, Boo was a policeman, Bob Elwell was the DA for Escambia County, Mr. Cunningham was a Veterinarian and etc. The three children were students in the local schools.

Movie was not filmed in the Courthouse

The movie was not filmed in the Monroe County Courthouse but the courtroom was modeled after it. The last acts were held inside the Monroe County Courthouse and Heritage Museum. I was fortunate to have a front seat behind the banisters near Atticus and Tom. The court scenes were funny and sad.

Old Monroe County Courthouse


Talked with actors

After the play ended the audience was invited by the director to come on the stage and take pictures and talk with the actors.

This production, “To Kill a Mockingbird” has traveled and performed at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago, Israel, and England, Mississippi, and even to small-town such as Fayette and Pell City.

Harper Lee signing a copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the

Eufaula History and Heritage Festival March, 1983 (Alabama State Archives)

Harper Lee

Novel inspired many

We were told that Harper Lee still lives in Monroeville and was often seen in town. There were no autographed books by Harper Lee in the gift shop.

If we were fortunate enough to have seen Harper Lee and spoken to her we would say, “thank you for a wonderfully written novel that inspires us to be better citizens and neighbors.”

Read more of Jean Butterworth’s stories in Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama



  1. […] County, Alabama’s opposition to the Confederacy is briefly mentioned in the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and ADDIE PRAY . Tap Roots, a 1948 movie based on a novel, presents a highly fictionalized and […]

  2. I like this, but I can’t get into the search page. I’m looking for Landers.

    1. What device are you using to search?

  3. I am using your website and nothing happens when I press search. Is there another way? Thanks.

  4. I’m not sure what you mean by what device I;m using.. I’m a very amateur internet user, but very interested in your work..

  5. Yes but did she really want it published? Many people close to her say ,no.

  6. Elder abuse, exploitation and manipulation by unscrupulous opportunists. There’s definitely something rotten in Monroeville.

  7. Atticus is a racist in it…no thanks

  8. This should never have happened.

  9. I’m amazed that a short novel could have such impact and the author ducks the limelight for 50 years.

  10. Author of my favorite book, with the one exception, the Holy Bible. It was made into my favorite movie. ❤️

  11. RIP Miss Harper=Your Mockinbird will live on forever

  12. Godspeed and God Bless you Nell. My people are from nearby Grove Hill and your wonderful novel would not have touched so many had it not rang of absolute truth and purity of heart.
    I think, no make that know, that in Scout we saw ourselves and we didn’t like everything we saw. Thank you for that, you made us all better people for it.

  13. RIP Miss Harper Lee. Your novel touched many of us. Thank you. And thank you for Atticus, Scout and Boo.

  14. Now if only her fellow Alabama citizens would heed the lesson in her book…..

  15. RIP, Scout. <3

  16. Thanks for Boo Radley – one of the greatest characters of American fiction.

Leave a Reply