To Kill a Mockingbird turns 50

Celebrations mark the original publication of Harper Lee's classic

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird is 50 years old this month. Lee's coming-of-age novel, set against a background of virulent racism in the Deep South, is one of the most influential and popular books of the 20th century. Universally acclaimed from its publication in 1960, the novel was adapted as an Academy Award-winning film starring Gregory Peck in 1962. It has been translated into over 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. A 2006 World Book Day poll named it the number one book every adult should read before they die, with the Bible in second place.

Events marking the anniversary have been going on since May, culminating on 11 July with celebrations throughout North America, from an open-air screening of the film version in Toronto to broadcaster Tom Brokaw discussing the book in Bozeman, Montana. Click here to go to a website dedicated to the anniversary events. For members in the UK, the BBC is broadcasting a tribute by actor Dougray Scott, who had one of his first breaks into acting playing Jem in a 1989 stage version. You can listen to it on BBC Radio 2 on Monday 12 July at 10pm. Click here to find out more.

The novel has achieved legendary status, in part because it is the only one Harper Lee has ever written. Today, she resides in the town of her birth, Monroeville, Alabama, living a reclusive life and refusing to speak publicly of the book. The Toronto Star features a fascinating article about the town and its indelible links to the novel (Truman Capote, Lee's great friend, spent holidays with relatives who lived next door to Lee, and was the inspiration for the character of Dill). You can read the full article here.

The Folio edition of To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of our most enduringly popular publications. It is introduced by author Albert French and features evocative illustrations by Aafke Brouwer. You can read more about it here.

last modified: Mon, Sep 12th 2011Bookmark and Share
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