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Harper Lee Quotes, Sayings by author of To Kill a Mockingbird



In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.
Harper Lee
Feb 2015 announcing a sequel to her novel To Kill a Mockingbird to be published July 2015 by Harper. Lost for half a century it was rediscovered in Fall of 2014.
Well, they're Southern people, and if they know you are working at home they think nothing of walking right in for coffee. But they wouldn't dream of interrupting you at golf.
Harper Lee
On why she has done her best creative thinking while playing golf, quoted in Time 1961 after she received the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird.
I am still alive although very quiet.
Harper Lee
Writing in 1995 introduction to 35th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.
When you have a hit like that, you can't go anywhere but down.
Harper Lee
Asked by cousin Richard Williams why she never wrote another book after To Kill a Mockingbird.
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout (Jean Louise Finch) the narrator, Chapter 1.
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 2.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Atticus Finch to daughter Scout, Chapter 3.
You are too young to understand it ... but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of--oh, of your father.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Miss Maudie Atkinson to Scout, Chapter 5.
There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Miss Maudie Atkinson, Chapter 5.
The sixth grade seemed to please him from the beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me - he tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn't see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn't? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 7.
When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Atticus Finch, Chapter 9.
I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 9.
Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Atticus Finch, Chapter 9.
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Attitus Finch to daughter Scout, Chapter 10.
Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Miss Maudie Atkinson to Scout, Chapter 10.
It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 11.
The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Attitus Finch, Chapter 11.
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Attitus Finch, Chapter 11.
She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 12.
So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses.... That proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Attitus Finch, Chapter 16.
The witnesses for the state have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption - the evil assumption - that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber. Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you. You know the truth, the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men cannot be trusted around women, black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, Speech to the jury by Atticus Finch, Chapter 20.
I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system - that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality. Gentlemen, a court is no better than each man of you sitting before me on this jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, Speech to the jury by Atticus Finch, Chapter 20.
"I think I'll be a clown when I get grown," said Dill. "Yes, sir, a clown.... There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off." "You got it backwards, Dill," said Jem. "Clowns are sad, it's folks that laugh at them." "Well, I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks."
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 22.
I don't know [how they could convict Tom Robinson], but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it-seems that only children weep.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Attitus Finch to son Jem Finch, Chapter 22.
I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 23.
The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Atticus Finch to his son Jem Finch, Chapter 23.
If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time. It's because he wants to stay inside.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Jem Finch, Chapter 23.
I'm not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all my life an' I'm goin' on forty-three years old. Know everything that's happened here since before I was born. There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Sheriff Tate, Chapter 30.
Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird, spoken by Scout, Chapter 31.


Harper Lee: American novelist. Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, United States. Her novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize. It dealt with racial prejudice in the American South and what she observed growing up as a child in Alabama. A second novel, a sequel titled Go Set a Watchman, remained lost for half a century and was rediscovered in the fall of 2014.


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