A descendant of Robert E. Lee, Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. She studied law at the University of Alabama, but left school to pursue a writing career.
Her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is set in Maycomb, Alabama. It tells the story of a young white girl named Scout, and her father Atticus Fitch, a white attorney who, by defending an innocent black man, refuses to give in to the pressure of the prejudiced society in which he lives. Lee received a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her work. She retired to Monroeville and did not publish another novel until 2015. That novel, Go Set a Watchman, which was written in the 1950s before To Kill a Mockingbird, tells the story of Scout's return to Maycomb as a young woman trying to understand both her father's attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
Harper Lee died on February 19, 2016. She was 89.