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‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ published 60 years ago, still resonates

"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

Published on July 11, 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was an instant success and has withstood the test of time as one of America’s most classic examples of modern literature.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was Lee’s only published book until “Go Set a Watchman,” an earlier draft of “Mockingbird,” was published on July 14, 2015. Lee continued responding to her work’s impact until her death in February 2016.

The book is loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was 10.

The book’s hero is white lawyer Atticus Finch, who not only defends a Black man against a rape charge but faces down a lynch mob. Finch has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers.

The primary themes of “To Kill a Mockingbird” involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted Lee addresses issues of class, courage, compassion and gender roles in the Deep South.

The book is widely read in schools in the United States with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice.

The book was made into the well-received 1962 film with the same title, starring Gregory Peck as Finch.