Writing is a need – Harper Lee

As well as reading books, I love to hear about them. And so every now and then, I listen to the podcasts from a few book-related BBC radio programmes. One such programme is The Book Programme.

The programme broadcast on 3rd October 2010 had To Kill a Mocking Bird as one of its “protagonists”. I read the book a long, long time ago and watched the film  – also currently sitting in my digital box, waiting for the perfect moment to see the light (I share my mother’s love for Gregory Peck!). But I wanted to share this anecdote about the author, Nelle Harper Lee with you, because it illustrates that well known fact that art is a need which helps us to share our thoughts with others.

Shami Chakrabarti shared a story told to her in a letter. The author of the letter was teaching in a school in Alabama and was staging a version of To Kill a Mocking Bird. During the rehearsal, an old lady appeared at the back of the hall, asking whose idea it was to stage such a play. Needless to say, the old lady was Harper Lee herself. When asked by the teacher, why she hadn’t written another novel, Harper Lee answered:

“I said everything I ever wanted to say in that book and I’ll stand by every word until the day I die.”

How amazing to be able to condense everything you believe in in one novel and to win a Pulitzer price for it! How many other authors are there who wrote one novel and never published again? In every case, how wonderful to shape your thoughts into stories that continue to be enjoyed by everyone again and again and again.


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