The Mockingbird Flies Away


Last week, we lost the ‘iconic’ writer Harper Lee, at an age of 89.

The irony of the matter is that she wrote only one book in her lifetime, that too 55 years ago (a second book did come out in 2015 but it was later confirmed to be the first draft of the first book). Loved by millions, the book won the Pulitzer Prize, was named the best novel of the 20th Century by the Library Journal, is taught in 74 percent of secondary schools and was made into an Oscar-winning movie (I read the book after falling in love with the movie and loved the book even more).

The book was none other than the all-time classic To Kill A Mockingbird, a book which is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of ‘rape’ and ‘race’.

A one-book wonder, Lee was able to bask in her fame for more than 50 years. And when she died, newspapers were full of glowing tributes – three in one day in the New York Times alone. But you know what, despite what many critics say, I feel she deserves every bit of that fame and honor. Sometimes I wonder, if she had written more, what other classics would have come out of her quill in these 50 years.

Today’s Needull is our first Audio-Needull, an 11 minutes rare interview from 1964 where the usually reclusive Lee talks about the unexpected response she got from her novel, her inspirations and on her slow-moving second novel (I wonder what it was).

Click here to hear Lee’s full interview on WQXR