Hey Oprah, Are You Listening?

January 31, 2006 @ 3:04 am | Filed under:

While Oprah’s p.r. people are busy explaining that they didn’t mean to exclude homeschoolers from her National Essay Contest, Harper Lee quietly made sure that home-educated students would be included in hers.

An awards ceremony for an essay contest on the subject of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the occasion attracts no actor, politician or music figure. Instead, it draws someone to whom Alabamians collectively attach far more obsession: the author of the book itself, Harper Lee, who lives in the small town of Monroeville, Ala., one of the most reclusive writers in the history of American letters.

With more than 10,000,000 copies sold since it first appeared in 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” exists as one of the best-selling novels of all time. For decades, Ms. Lee has remained fiercely mindful of her privacy, politely but resolutely refusing to talk to the press and making only rare public appearances, in which she always declines to speak….But since the essay contest, sponsored by the Honors College at the University of Alabama, got going five years ago, Ms. Lee, who is 79, has attended the ceremony faithfully, meeting with the 50 or so winners from most of the state’s school districts and graciously posing for pictures with the parents and teachers who accompany them.


Her one stipulation for the contest was that children who were home-schooled be eligible to compete.

Hat tip: brother Jay

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4 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Love2learn Mom says:

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books, but I never knew anything about the author before.

  2. Karen E. says:

    I love To Kill a Mockingbird, and love Harper Lee even more after reading this. 🙂

    Love2Learn, did you know that Dill was based on Truman Capote? They were childhood friends. It’s said that he may have helped her with the writing of Mockingbird, too. However it was written, it’s one of my alltime favorites, and I’ll always love it dearly.

  3. Love2learn Mom says:

    No I didn’t, how interesting! I never read Mockingbird until I was an adult (about four years ago) and absolutely loved it. I wrote up some study questions for it at love2learn.

  4. Jane says:

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