1. Based on a true story
The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is based on Harper Lee’s recollections of her family, neighbors, and an incident that happened near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, when she was 10 years old. Both Atticus and Jem were inspired by her father and brother.
2. Harper Lee was a good friend of Truman Capote
The two writers grew up next door in Monroeville, where Truman lived with his aunt in the summer. If you know the story, as you might have guessed, Dill’s character is based on him! Harper also accompanied Truman around the United States, studying his famous true crime novel “In Cold Blood.”
3. Harper Lee studies law
Harper studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949. Her father, Amartha Coleman Lee, is also a lawyer. No wonder she can write court cases in such technical detail.
4. This is the book most librarians think you should read
To Kill a Mockingbird regularly tops polls on important books, life-changing books, and books that change. But did you know it topped a World Book Day poll of UK librarians asking “Which book should every adult read before he dies?”
5. She was told not to expect too much
Harper Lee’s publisher told her that when the book was first printed, she should only expect to sell a few thousand copies. It has now sold over 40 million copies, has been translated into over 40 languages, and has not been out of print since 1960.
6. This is not the first stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird
Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird opens March 2022 at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, following a successful Broadway show starring Jeff Daniels and Gbenga Akinnagbe. But the first theatrical adaptation came out in Monroeville in 1990. The version written by Christopher Sergel even made it to the UK, in Leeds in 2006, York in 2011, and even at Regent’s Park, starring Robert Sean Open Air Theatre) Leonard as Atticus Finch.
7. The show runs every year in Monroeville
Every year in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, the 1990 play is staged on the county courthouse grounds with a crowd of citizens in attendance. White male audience members were “asked for jury duty” at jury seats at intervals, and the courtroom scene was staged at Monroe Country Court.
8. It’s almost called something different
To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t the first title! Almost named “Atticus” after one of the main characters, the book was originally called “To Set a Watchman” – the title of the book is often thought to be “To Kill a Mockingbird” The sequel, which was actually the first draft of Harper Lee’s novel.
9. Countless awards
The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, when it was in its 41ststone Weekly bestseller list. The 1962 film was also a hit, winning Oscars for best screenplay, best art direction and best actor for Gregory Peck’s “Atticus.” Mary Badham, who played the Boy Scouts, was the youngest actress to be nominated at the age of 10. Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation – currently running in London’s West End – opened on Broadway with nine Tony nominations, and Cellia Keenan-Bolger won a Tony Drama Desk Award for her role as Scout and outside critics awards.
10. New work breaks Broadway box office records
The highly anticipated production of Aaron Sorkin has grossed over $22 million in advance ticket sales. It broke a century record in the week ended Dec. 23, grossing $1,586,946 at the Schubert Theater, the highest grossing of any Broadway play in the Schubert organization’s 118-year history.
To Kill A Mockingbird is currently performing at the Gielgud Theatre until November 19, 2022. Get your tickets via the link below.