Fifty-five years ago, Harper Lee debuted her first published book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel became an instant bestseller. And it went on to earn a Pulitzer Prize, was made into an critically acclaimed film which won 3 Academy Awards (including one for Gregory Peck), was translated into 40 languages and sold 40 million copies.
When author Roy Newquist interviewed Lee in 1964, he asked for her reaction to the novel's great success. She replied, "...it was one of sheer numbness. It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold... I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I didn't expect the book to sell in the first place. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers, but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected." And yet the reclusive author never published another work.
Just yesterday, Lee's publisher announced that the beloved author's rediscovered book, Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, will be published this July.
To celebrate Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, read some treasured passages from the novel. Find them here at Parade.com and discover your favorites.