Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird

A Video Talk

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and is beloved around the world, and yet its topics of rape and racial inequality have also made it controversial. Did it allow Harper Lee to live up to her desire to be ‘The Jane Austen of South Alabama’? What makes this book so powerful?

Harper Lee was given an incredibly generous Christmas gift of one year of finance that would allow her to quit her job and focus on writing – the result was this amazing book. Join me to look at what drove her to write this controversial classic.

“I remember starting it and just devouring it, not being able to get enough of it,”
― Oprah Winfrey

Prize winning and controversial

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and is beloved around the world, and yet its topics of rape and racial inequality have also made it controversial. It is high on the list of novels banned from American libraries and schools. Some argue that because its pages include the word ‘Nigger’, it should not be read by modern readers, while others insist that its message about fairness, legal justice for all regardless of skin colour, its coming of age story and its heroine’s loss of innocence, is something that every child needs to know.

Responsible for social change

To Kill a Mockingbird was a novel that provoked social change. It had a great impact on the American Civil Rights Movement, showing through fiction and the power of readers’ imaginations just what it was like to for a black man to face a court of white jurors when accused of raping a white woman. The American Bar Association erected a monument to Atticus Finch, in gratitude for all he did to improve the public profile of lawyers. The book moved people, changed their minds and helped bring about greater equality in the American South.

Purchase the complete Video Talk (just $9)

At just $9 this Video Talk is a real treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.

100% guaranteed. If you don’t feel my talk is great value for money, please let me know why and I will refund your purchase price.

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Just $9. Buy it now – you’ll receive access details by return email.

Discuss it with me

Join me in Alabama for an exploration of this powerful novel, and a look at the reclusive and strong-minded woman behind it. You can discuss it with me here.

Thank you for the wonderful talk about the Suitable Boy. I found the biosketch of Vikram Seth as fascinating as the book. What an amazing man!

I look forward to seeing you on the screen next month. 


Thank you for yet another marvellous journey, Susannah!


Just loved going to India with you today, having travelled widely there for several months back in the hippy days of 1970 and again in 1978 (This time with Oxfam).

I heard Vickram Seth speak at the 2008 Ubud Writers Festival, alas, I don’t seem to have got a photo that day.

I have to admit to not having read the book, the daunting size has always put me off, but I watched the Netflix series this week in advance of the talk and just loved it. Not a touch of Bollywood’s over-the-topness and superficiality about the production. I was aware throughout of the Pride and Prejudice parallels! And how daring that kiss must have been to an Indian audience. An Equal Music blew me away when I read it 20 years ago- time to revisit that one.

Thanks for the wondrous insights into Seth’s Life and work. 

Thanks for the wonderful lecture.
I also attempted to read this book when it came out, but it became one of the only books I’ve ever started and not finished. For your lecture I decided to watch the Netflix series – at least I would know the ending! I loved the mini-series and now need to go back and read the book. Now I know the characters and their (to me) complex names, I should be able to concentrate more on the plot and the language. 
Thank you for the Tea with a Book Addict talks which I have been enjoying very much.
Thank you very much. Wonderful talk again.
Just LOVED your talk on ‘Miss Jean Brodie’. Thank you so much for taking me to Edinburgh as well as into the life of Muriel Spark. I never knew the character of Jean was based on one of Muriel Spark’s own teachers.
Fabulous, spellbinding lecture, Susannah.
I can’t overstate how much I’m enjoying this series, and how greatly you’re expanding my knowledge and interests.
I’ve just watched your video of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and it was delightful as always. I can’t overstate how much I’m enjoying this series, and how greatly you’re expanding my knowledge and interests (I’d read this book some time ago but the talk has added yet more books to my must-read list!).
With your joie de vie and passion for literature, you will always be in your prime Susannah!
I’ve just completed watching your Ethel Turner / Seven Little Australians video and am utterly impressed. What a phenomenal amount of research, compilation, writing, and editing it represents. I find your approach incredibly thorough, and really enjoy the amount of contextual information you provide – what other writers were writing / what was going on socially / what other writers were NOT writing about – it all adds up to a really satisfying total.
Matthew Curlewis
I am looking forward to exploring your website and watching your talks as your enthusiasm and love of literature really comes across and makes them so enjoyable to watch.  Thank you!

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Featured image credit- Inger Nilsson as Pippi Longstocking, 1969 Beta Film TV series adaptation, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062598/

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