Harper Lee

Harper Lee: American Masters

About the Documentary

Updated May 26, 2015 One of the most influential American novels of the 20th century and biggest bestsellers of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) was believed to be the first and only novel by Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926), until now. On July 14, HarperCollins will release Lee’s earliest known work, […]


Six Degrees of Salinger

Playing fast and loose with the Six Degrees of Separation game, American Masters looks into its archives to see what the great American writer J.D. Salinger has in common with the lives and careers of 11 other American Masters. Salinger was a fan of Judy Garland J.D. Salinger (1919 – 2010) was a contemporary of […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

The Cake That Made Maycomb Famous: The Lane Cake

BY TOM McNAMARA The Lane Cake is a Southern tradition in these here United States, especially come Christmastime. The story goes that Emma Rylander Lane, of Clayton, Alabama, won first prize with it at the county fair in Columbus, Georgia. She called it “Prize Cake” when she self-published a cookbook, Some Good Things To Eat, […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

Interview with Director Mary Murphy

The director of AMERICAN MASTERS Harper Lee: Hey Boo answers questions about conducting research for her book and the making of her documentary film.

Harper Lee: American Masters

Excerpt from Director Mary Murphy’s Scout, Atticus, and Boo

In an excerpt from her book, “Scout, Atticus, and Boo,” that would lead to the documentary AMERICAN MASTERS Harper Lee: Hey Boo, director Mary Murphy details the the way that biographical elements worked their way into the creation and success of Harper Lee’s literary classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Harper Lee: American Masters

Outtakes: Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb, author of the critically acclaimed She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True and former Director of Creative Writing at  University of Connecticut, discusses Scout’s universally sympathetic voice and the ways in which To Kill a Mockingbird and all literature can act as an agent of change. Harper Lee: Hey Boo […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

Outtakes: Mark Childress

Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama, describes how Harper Lee’s protagonist Scout Finch, the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird, was a radical voice of change in the segregated south of his childhood. Harper Lee: Hey Boo airs Monday April 2nd at 10 p.m. (check local listings). Mark Childress: Yeah I always have. I […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

Outtakes: Allan Gurganus

Allan Gurganus, author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and The Practical Heart, discusses the ways that Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird influenced him as an adolescent. The novelist’s ability to distill national issues into a local, familiar setting, he says, made him excited about literature. Harper Lee: Hey Boo airs Monday […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

Outtakes: Richard Russo

Novelist Richard Russo describes how he reluctantly read To Kill a Mockingbird as a student in Catholic school. Russo explains how the relationships described in the book influenced him as a writer and provided inspiration for his own characters in his Pulitzer prize-winning novel, Empire Falls. Harper Lee: Hey Boo airs Monday April 2nd at […]

Harper Lee: American Masters

Outtakes: James McBride

James McBride, author of the memoir The Color of Water, discusses how Harper Lee used the voice of her protagonists in To Kill a Mockingbird to bravely provide an accessible and radical point of view about racism in 1960. He describes and how today’s authors can expand upon Lee’s views. Harper Lee: Hey Boo airs […]