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May 11, 2013

Harper Lee sues agent over copyright to To Kill A Mockingbird

mockAuthor claims she was duped into signing over the rights on her prizewinning book.

By Paul Harris

Harper Lee, the reclusive author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has sued a literary agent, claiming that he tricked the ageing writer into assigning him copyright on the classic book.

The move marks a rare step into the spotlight for Lee, who is known for keeping a low profile for such a household name, living quietly in a tiny town in the deep south of America and eschewing almost all media requests.

However, in a shock move, 87-year-old Lee has now filed a lawsuit in a Manhattan court alleging that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee’s long-time agent, Eugene Winick, tricked Lee into signing over the copyright on the book.

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April 23, 2013

TES poll reveals teachers’ favourite reads

| By Joshua Farrington

A list of teachers’ favourite books compiled by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) has declared Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as number one. Harper Lee’s popular school text, To Kill a Mockingbird, came in second, while JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series came in third.

500 teachers responded to an online survey to name their favourite books, to create a list which TES editor Gerard Kelly called: “a masterpiece of erudition and entertainment” which “could be one of the few things that Michaels Gove and Rosen agree on”.

In the magazine’s leader column, he wrote: “Strip out the children’s books, the inclusion of which is only to be expected from people whose job it is to engage children, and what you are left with is a pretty canonical list. There’s enough Dickens, Steinbeck, Hardy, Wilde, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hugo and Eliot to satisfy even the most conservative of politicians, and of course, plenty of modern greats: Kerouac, Ishiguro, Roy and Plath, to please the modernists.”

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March 20, 2013

What is the Great American Novel? (VOTE)

darkstormy5By Gabe Habash

It’s time to cast your lot: what is The Great American Novel? Cather or Fitzgerald? Lee or Bellow? Stephen King?

To help make this impossible question less impossible, we’ve decided to limit each great writer to one book apiece–that means if you’re looking for As I Lay Dying, you won’t find it, but you will find The Sound and the Fury. You only get one vote, so make it count.

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March 8, 2013

10 Classic Books You Read in High School You Should Reread

PracticalBy Kevin Smokler

In Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School, Kevin Smokler takes you on a trip down high school memory lane, when you couldn’t stand reading As I Lay Dying or Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Or maybe you could, you bookworm. Either way, Smokler gives us 10 books and 10 compelling reasons why you should revisit them.

It’s all too easy to look at the novels assigned to us as high school students as monuments or mist, to be worshiped or abandoned as we did our outfit to the junior prom. That either/or narrative matches both how we encounter these “great books” in education (as non-negotiable requirements) and an educator’s hope for our response (that their “greatness” changes our lives). That may be a whole lot no-shades-of-gray thinking on my part. As proof, I’ll accept a “meh” opinion on Moby-Dick or The Scarlet Letter from anyone assigned to write an essay on it as a teenager.

Is there a third way? I hope so. I spent the last year rereading the books my high school teachers assigned to me. My thinking: It isn’t enough to give a classic another look just because “it’s a classic.” A classic is also so because of its resonance and usefulness throughout time, JST as Shakespeare’s Henry V was a patriotic salvo when Laurence Oliver adopted it at the beginning of the Cold War and a warning about the cost of empire when Kenneth Brannagh did at the end of it.

Below are 10 high school classics where I found that useful thing I missed the first time around.

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April 28, 2012

Harper Lee at Home

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:58 am

Harper Lee

On this day in 1926 Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. After the immediate and overwhelming success of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), and despite forecasting more, Lee is known to have published only three short magazine articles since, all in the 60s; nor has she broken the silence and anonymity into which she quickly retreated.

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April 5, 2012

Harper Lee’s sister gives glimpses of reclusive author’s life

Harper Lee's sister Alice Finch Lee has given glimpses into the writer's family life. Photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Alice Finch Lee tells documentary maker Mary McDonagh Murphy that her sister ‘grew up quite the little tomboy’

By Alison Flood

Glimpses into the family life of the famously reclusive author ofTo Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, have been given by her sister Alice, a practising lawyer who recently turned 100.

Alice Finch Lee, known as Miss Alice, was speaking to documentary maker Mary McDonagh Murphy. Although her sister Nelle Harper Lee gave her last interview in 1964, Miss Alice was persuaded to talk to Murphy, telling the filmmaker that her sister “grew up quite the little tomboy”, and that she later became an author who “did not think that a writer needed to be recognised in person and it bothered her when she became too familiar.”

Murphy saw Miss Alice at her 100th birthday party, thrown in the Monroeville, Alabama, offices of her law firm Barnett, Bugg, Lee & Carter (but not attended by her sister Harper, who went instead to a family-only gathering two days later). Asked by Murphy how she had lived so long, Miss Alice said: “I don’t do anything to bring on dying. I live day by day.” Her nephew Hank Conner told the documentary maker, whose film Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird was released to mark 50 years since the novel was published in 2010, that “Southerners are always attributing things – good and bad – to genes and breeding. Miss Alice comes from good stock.”

Conner also told Murphy about how his other aunt, Nelle Harper, would play the original cast album from Annie Get Your Gun, and how, later, “manuscripts” would arrive at the sisters’ childhood home on South Alabama Avenue addressed to Miss Alice from New York. At the time, Harper Lee was living in the city, working by day as an airline ticket reservationist, and writing by night. “Alice is a very good editor and a very good copy editor,” he said.

News of the manuscripts, plural, will be greeted with interest by the author’s millions of fans:

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September 13, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird voted UK’s best-loved book

Mary Badham and Gregory Peck in the 1962 film of To Kill A Mockingbird. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/UI

Harper Lee’s novel edges out previous favourites Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings.

By Alison Flood

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has replaced previous favourites The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice as the nation’s most-loved read.

The classic novel topped a poll of more than 6,000 people for World Book Night, with JRR Tolkien’s fantasy coming in sixth place after heading the BBC’s Big Read in 2003, when three quarters of a million votes were cast. Jane Austen’s evergreen romance came in second, after romping in in first in a poll of 2,000 for World Book Day in 2007.

The World Book Night survey saw over 6,000 people submit the top 10 titles they most love to read, give and share. More than 8,000 books were suggested, with Lee’s story of Scout Finch growing up in the American south receiving the most nominations, with 676 votes. Second place went to Pride and Prejudice (521 votes), with Markus Zusak’s modern children’s novel, The Book Thief, coming in third (489), Jane Eyre fourth (415) and Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife fifth (405).

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July 29, 2011

Harper Lee tops World Book Night picks

 | Charlotte Williams

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has been voted the most popular title to be given away as part of World Book Night 2012.

The organisation launched a public vote last month asking people to vote for the titles they would like to see given away at the event next year. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is in second place and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief rounds out the top three.

Also in the top 10 are The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. J K Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, sits just outside the top 10 in 11th place.

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