What Famous Civil War General is Harper Lee Related to? A Surprising Fact about the Author of To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee is one of the most celebrated American authors of the 20th century. Her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a classic of modern literature that explores the themes of racism, justice, and childhood in the South during the 1930s. But did you know that Harper Lee had a connection to a famous historical figure from the same region and era? Here’s what you need to know about Harper Lee’s relation to a Civil War general.

Harper Lee’s Family Background

Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Her full name was Nelle Harper Lee, and she was the youngest of four children. Her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a lawyer and a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee was one of the most respected and influential generals in American history, and he led his troops in many battles against the Union forces. He also became a symbol of the Southern cause and culture after the war.

Harper Lee’s mother, Frances Cunningham Finch, was also from a prominent Southern family. Her ancestor, William Finch, was one of the first settlers in Alabama and a friend of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. Harper Lee’s middle name, Harper, was in honor of a pediatrician who saved her sister’s life.

Harper Lee’s Literary Career

Harper Lee moved to New York City in 1949 to pursue a career as a writer. She worked as a ticket agent for an airline while writing stories in her spare time. In 1956, she received a generous gift from her friends: enough money to quit her job and focus on writing for a year. She used this opportunity to write her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960.

To Kill a Mockingbird was an instant success and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It also became one of the most widely read and taught books in American schools. The novel tells the story of Scout Finch, a young girl who lives with her father Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small town in Alabama. The novel explores the themes of racial prejudice, social injustice, moral courage, and human dignity through the eyes of Scout and her brother Jem.

Harper Lee also helped her childhood friend Truman Capote with his research for his book In Cold Blood, which was based on a true crime story. Capote was also a famous writer who wrote novels such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Grass Harp. He and Harper Lee were neighbors in Monroeville and remained close friends until his death in 1984.

Harper Lee published only one other book in her lifetime: Go Set a Watchman, which was released in 2015. This book was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was rejected by publishers at the time. It is set 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird and features an adult Scout Finch who returns to her hometown and confronts her father’s views on race and society.

Harper Lee died on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89. She left behind a legacy of literary excellence and social conscience that continues to inspire millions of readers around the world.


Harper Lee was related to Robert E. Lee, one of the most famous generals in American history. This fact reveals an interesting contrast between her family heritage and her literary vision. While Robert E. Lee fought for the preservation of slavery and secession in the Civil War, Harper Lee wrote about the struggle for racial equality and human rights in the South during the Jim Crow era. She also challenged the stereotypes and prejudices that plagued her society with her compassionate and realistic portrayal of its people.

Harper Lee was not only a great writer but also a remarkable person who used her talent and voice to make a difference in the world. She once said: “The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.” Her books certainly make us think about ourselves, our history, our values, and our humanity.

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