Harper Lee, born Nelle Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016), was an American novelist widely known for To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Immediately successful, it won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. Though Lee had only published this single book, in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. She was also known for assisting her childhood friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood (1966). The plot and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird are loosely based on Lee’s observations of an event that occurred near her Monroeville, Alabama hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The novel deals with the irrationality of adult attitudes towards race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s, as depicted through the eyes of two children.
Note: Lee died in her sleep three days ago, on on the morning of February 19, 2016, aged 89. Last year another novel, Go Set a Watchman (2015), written in the mid-1950s, was controversially published as a “sequel,” though it was later confirmed to be To Kill a Mockingbird‘s first draft.