To Kill a Mockingbird endures as one of the most powerful books that students read. Often curious about its elusive author, students can now view Harper Lee: Hey, Boo, the PBS documentary recently aired on WGBY. The film illuminates the phenomenon behind Lee’s first and only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the 1962 film version, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Offering an unprecedented look into Lee’s mysterious life, Emmy®-winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy (author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird) interviews Lee’s friends and family, including her centenarian sister Alice, who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time. Among them, her rise from small-town Alabama girl to famous author, her tumultuous friendship with Truman Capote, and the origin of her most memorable characters: Atticus Finch, his daughter Scout, her friend Dill, and Boo Radley.
The documentary also explores the context and history of the novel’s Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication and through the film starring Gregory Peck. Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Anna Quindlen, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, and others reflect on the novel’s power, influence, popularity, and the ways it has shaped their lives. Lee gave her last interview in 1964 and receded from the limelight.
The American Masters’ site offers additional resources such as an excerpt from Director Mary Murphy’s Scout, Atticus and Boo.