Credit: Shutterstock/Harper Lee

Things are never as bad as they seem

Everyone, it is sometimes said, has one good book in them. In Harper Lee’s case, the book turned out to be a Pulitzer Prize winner and an instant literary classic.

The book was To Kill A Mockingbird, published in 1960 when Lee was still a young woman. And until her final years 50 years later when she produced a previously unpublished prequel to the book entitled Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee never felt the need to write another.

“I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird,” she once said. “I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement.”

But the book proved a triumph, the struggles of characters such as heroic lawyer Atticus Finch and the hermit Boo Radley in the racially divided Alabama of the Thirties, soon becoming an essential part of many school curriculums and forming the basis of a hugely successful Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck.

Even Victoria Beckham is rumoured to be a fan – Harper Lee’s name apparently inspiring the name of their daughter, Harper Seven. Such has been the novel’s extraordinary reach.