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"To Kill a Mockingbird" turns 50

Author Harper Lee
Author Harper Lee
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Harper Lee’s classic about a courtroom drama in the segregated South turned fifty yesterday. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936. This gave the book an unprecedented real feel and hit very close to home for some, maybe too close. Few books have ever achieved the success of To Kill a Mockingbird and few have ever gained the same amount of controversy. The book's racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms, but is widely credited with being an American classic. Whether you hate it or love it, one thing is for sure, from Boo Radley to Atticus and Scout, Harper Lee’s characters and story have impacted generations.


James Fugate, owner of Eso Won Bookstore, a resource for materials focused on the African-American experience