to kill a mockingbird top 10 events of 1965

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: review: ‘dazzling début’

This review was first published on October 7 1960

The setting of To Kill a Mockingbird is the Deep South, an area which, fictionally speaking, always fills me with uneasy premonitions. After Faulkner and Carson McCullers I’m resigned to an inevitable saga of rape and racial prejudice whenever I open a novel set south of the Mason-Dixon line. Sure enough, all these ingredients turn up in Harper Lee’s first novel: but one glance at her photograph on the wrapper should tell you that it isn’t to be that sort of novel.

The narrator, Scout Finch, is looking back to events which took place in Maycomb County, Alabama, when she was well short of her teens. There she lived with her brother, Jem, and her old man, Atticus Finch, lawyer, widower and small-town philosopher, and their old coloured cook, Calpurnia. As a genre picture it is superb – neither sentimentalised nor played for clever laughs.

But this is, ultimately, a novel about the loss of childhood innocence, and Scout comes bang up against reality when Atticus undertakes the defence of a Negro accused (falsely, as it happens) of raping a white girl. There are whispers, mutterings, a threatened lynching party. Friends of years become implacable enemies over­night. I won’t reveal the very subtle twist ending. Miss Lee has made a really dazzling début.

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to kill a mockingbird, novel, review, original, telegraph, harper, lee, sequel, watchman, book reviews,books,culture:This is The Daily Telegraph's original review of Harper Lee's classic 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird

to kill a mockingbird top 10 events of 1965