Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

by Charles J. Shields
3.6 27

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Mockingbird 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
RomyAnaKaval More than 1 year ago
* THIS BOOK IS A BRIDGE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO REACH CLOSER AND BETTER UNDERSTAND THE MYSTERY OF HARPER LEE'S TALENT AND HER ETERNAL MESSAGES TO HUMANITY IN "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" What a challenge and Sisyphean task to create a portrait of Nelle Harper Lee, the best novelist of the 20th Century while she is against and insists keeping her privacy. What a mission impossible for a biographer to not even exchange a word with the one whose character he wants to describe. And what an admiration, great respect and devotion is needed to keep the work on "Mockingbird" going no matter how hard it is for each and every step. I'm sure Charles J. Shields didn't know what he was involving himself into when he decided to write his book. After all Nelle Harper Lee is one of the most mysteriously secretive women alive and yet the one so openly self-revealed throughout her own words brilliantly knitted into her novel "To kill a Mockingbird". But Shields' passion was to create an honest tale about the persona of this exclusively talented Alabama woman that armed generations to come with the greatest idea that giving respect to the differences between ourselves as human beings is all we need. And he went to his four years journey of struggle. He fought to get to the real sources of Lee's exceptional gift, and to find out how the book was created, survived and proved itself through the years. As Harper Lee wasn't cooperating, Shields had to meet with hundreds of people from different circles who knew her personally - relatives, old friends, acquaintances. And he had to make over 600 interviews to get the actual picture he was putting so meticulously on his canvas. Until Charles J. Shields, as Miss Lee preferred to stay out of the media lights, the only source about her persona could be squeezed only from the novel. I truly believe that Shields' book is an honest and monumental work that will help future generations to reach and easier and better understand Harper Lee in her deep human essence, and hear clearly and on a deeper level her messages. The only thing sadly left to be desired here is the personal participation and presence of the real Nelle, with her own passions, emotions, feelings, motives and reasoning about different things and events in her own life and also about the ups and downs of the life and morality now days in general. Things that her privacy is depriving us all of and obviously creating more and more hunger for knowing her better and closer. The good news is Nelle Harper Lee is still here and with us and could change this, come back to her audience and add the missing components of her own portrait that Charles J. Shields painted with such precision, sincerity, love and ardor. RomyAna Kaval, Texas
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charles J. Shields spent four years tracking down every possible lead about perhaps the most elusive of American literary celebrities, Nelle Harper Lee. As a result of Lee¿s determination to remain private, Shields delves into past associations, finds people who attended school with her, those that were influential in her career, and the papers of her contemporaries in libraries across the country. We are rewarded with an insider¿s portrait of a girl named Nelle (her grandmother Ellen¿s name spelled backwards) from Monroeville, Alabama. Lee grows up to be one of the world¿s best selling authors and a Pulitzer Prize winner. I was fascinated with details about the lifelong, but difficult friendship with Truman Capote, their collaboration (and the huge role Lee played) in writing ¿In Cold Blood,¿ and the details of their younger years that inspired one of the best ¿teams¿ in literature, Scout and Dill. Most intriguing was Shields¿ search to track down why Lee never published another book. He delves into rumors, letters, innuendo and interviews to find the answer to that question. I am not a typical biography reader ¿ I generally prefer fiction, but this book kept me up late reading and gave me a new appreciation for ¿To Kill a Mockingbird.¿ I highly recommend it.
JFK More than 1 year ago
Charles J. Shields does a wonderful job of presenting Harper Lee in both a curious and irreverent way without controversy. The book is well-researched (copious notes) and interesting without being sensational or exploitative. I walked away with a sincere admiration for Harper Lee and sympathy for her inability of trying to fill her own shoes after writing "To Kill a Mockingbird."
ciaralin More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent read. Considering the difficulties that he must have faced (given Lee's reticence), Shields has woven a intriguing picture of Harper Lee. If you loved To Kill a Mockingbird - read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fifty years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and continues to sell phenomenally almost 1 million annually. One of the most influential American novels of the 20th century, with its themes of race relations, justice, and childhood, it is the most popular selection for citywide reading programs in the country, and its movie version also remains widely watched. The novel¿s author, Harper Lee, also played a key role in the interviewing and research for another of the 20th century's most significant books, In Cold Blood, by her lifelong friend Truman Capote. Lee published no other novels, carefully guards her personal life in her Alabama home town, has never authorized a biography, and long ago stopped granting interviews. Now, however, any of her readers who want to know more about the formative years, influences, and creative struggles of this engaging and intriguing writer can turn to a meticulously researched account of her life, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields. Drawing on interviews, public records and considerable literary detective work, Shields has written a well crafted, entertaining and highly informative biography, the first about this little known figure who has played an essential part in modern American culture. He offers evidence to put to rest the notion that her friend Capote had a hand in writing the novel and suggests a number of reasons that Lee has never published another work. Shields¿s ¿Portrait¿ seems likely to stand for a long time as a worthy companion piece to Lee¿s novel and as a dedicated contribution to literary history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a good idea to get this because if you live in faribault you read it in ninth grade. Plus it shows how life was back during the great depression. It is a great book i am currently reading it and i love it so i would say get it.
Alaijah Hampton More than 1 year ago
it was cool and very interesting
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
As a life long reader, I am sad to say, I was late to the To Kill a Mockingbird party. I was never required to read it in school. So, I never did. I finally read this book in my late 30’s. What an impact! I am glad I waited to read this. I feel the book had more meaning to me because of my age. After I finished the novel, I immediately rented the movie. Once again, I had to see what all the fuss was about. And the fuss….was very well done! Mockingbird – A Portrait of Harper Lee added so much to my repsect for Harper Lee. This book takes you from the beginning to the end. Her struggles as an unknown writer to one of fame and fortune are all covered. Her life with Truman Capote is covered in depth. He was such a large impact and influence on her as a person, as well as a writer. She as well, was probably his only friend. I am going to have to read more of his works. Even if you are not a fan of Harper Lee, this is a great read. I enjoyed so many aspects. Old Hollywood, how publishing worked and historical murders are all recreated. Harper Lee became more real to me as I read this book. I understand more about her life and her struggles. And what made her such an outstanding character and such a talent. I received this novel from the publisher and Netgalley for a honest review
kc_reader More than 1 year ago
A very well-researched insightful look into the life of the reclusive Harper Lee. By using the few interviews she gave when To Kill a Mockingbird came out and talking to countless people who have known her, Shields was able to create an entertaining biography that lets you more fully understand Lee and the childhood that led to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and Go Set a Watchman. (For example, Lee's father, who was the inspiration for Atticus, defended 2 blacks accused of murder but also had views very similar to those expressed by Atticus in Watchman.) It also goes into Lee's friendship with Truman Capote (the inspiration for Dill), both as children and as famous authors. Informational and a good read.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
One of the great mysteries of literature is why has Harper Lee never published a second novel after releasing the classic To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. Though Charles J. Shields provides an interesting look at the author¿s early years especially her work with Truman Capote in the 1950s that parallel what the recent film claimed as well as the success that the novel brought, he fails to obtain the answer to the key question why not a second book. Still this is a well written fascinating biography that fans of works on great writers (does one extraordinary season make you a Hall of Famer?) will enjoy MOCKINGBIRD, buts also feel a bit let down as the fundamental Lee question remains unanswered as if Ms. Lee ¿mocks¿ her biographer by forcing him to use anecdotal evidence to explain the unpublished recluse of the past four decades.----------- Harriet Klausner