A Novel Gift

In 1956, Harper Lee received a unique Christmas gift. Her friends, Michael and Joy Brown, offered her one year’s salary on the condition that she quit her job and dedicate herself to her writing.

The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.

photo via Wikipedia

photo via Wikipedia


A novel gift indeed.


The film version was released on Christmas Day in 1962.


(info. source: thirteen.org)

77 thoughts on “A Novel Gift

  1. What a Christmas present! It is like a fairy tale…. As extraordinary as the book itself….or as the film itself…thank you I did not know that wonderful story!!!

  2. What a wonderful gift. Actually it should be possible to do that a lot more often for family and friends. A little contribution here and there from everyone might mean that each person has an opportunity to fulfill a dream. We only need to think more creatively and behave more generously and miracles can happen.

  3. I have read this book over and over and over! My belated thanks to Michael and Joy Brown. Their Christmas gift has multiplied year and year and year.

    “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    • Fairy godmother, I like that, Valerie. Fairy Godmother and Father Christmas – a lovely Christmas gift and true understanding of what their friend needed at that point in her life.

  4. Great book. Great movie. I also enjoy the way Lee Harper turns up as the friend of Truman Capote in the movie In Cold Blood. Can’t remember if he also included his friendship with her in the book.

  5. Isn’t it hard to believe she only published that one novel. I still remember reading her book as a child and living each page. Scout is still one of my favorite characters. Thank the Lord for people like the Brown’s.

    • You’re right, one novel, but what a novel. I wonder if she had other ideas for books and if she has more writing but with all the success of her first novel feels too overwhelmed by it to publish anything else.

  6. That’s one of my all-time favorite novels. Usually with books and movies the books are always better but with that one it’s impossible to decide. I’d love to be able to just concentrate on writing – definitely the ultimate Christmas present! I’m salivating just thinking of it.

    • That’s a good point, Sheila. Books are always better than their movie adaptations but in this case it’s a close call. I wonder if she was pleased with the adaptation.

    • I was thinking that too; what pressure! But maybe they had the kind of friendship where there wouldn’t be any kind of pressure. Just an opportunity given to be creative and write; regardless of the final product.

  7. I’m with Kate! I want those friends, too.

    Though technically Mr. H gave me that as my 30th birthday present so I could write all last year. And that’s when I finished up Beneath the Satin Gloves, started blogging, and spawned Everything’s Not Bigger. Funny how productive we can be without those silly jobs that pay the bills. : )

    • Isn’t this a fascinating story, Christy? They must have recognized her talent in some way – or just recognized her need to write. Either way, you’re right, it turned out to be a gift to all of us as well!

  8. I should consider bankrolling your salary for a season, Letizia. What could you come up with? (If someone wanted to do this for me, it wouldn’t take more than a car payment and a grocery bill to meet the difference!)

  9. For a writer this had to be the ultimate gift. And then in return she wrote a book that has given much to those who read it, and the millions that still watch and rewatch To Kill A Mocking Bird. V.

    • I like the idea that it was a reread for everyone in your book club. I’m sure that made for an interesting discussion; different from a first reading. 4th time reading it – that’s great!

  10. Pingback: Imagine | silkannthreades

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