To Kill A Mockingbird

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Tens of millions of readers got their first glimpse inside of a courtroom from To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, Harper Lee's 1960 novel remains a staple on middle school reading lists, and the film adaptation has captivated countless social justice warriors, law students, parents and pet owners.


Who is Atticus Finch really—an arch-segregationist or a champion of justice? And how do we go about answering that question when going straight to the source isn’t an option?

Chapel Hill Public Library / Flickr

Between 1956 and 1961, "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee wrote a series of personal letters, now available to the public at Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

The letters, written during the same period as Lee wrote "Mockingbird" and "Go Set a Watchman," sheds light on the relationships of a renowned writer who was legendarily private. The correspondence also provides a new look into the civil rights movement-era South in which Lee wrote her novels. 

We talked with Emory University history professor Joe Crespino about these letters. His latest book, "Atticus Finch: The Biography," focuses on the influences that shaped Lee's writing.

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On this edition of "Two Way Street," we're asking the question—who is Atticus Finch?

He was a beloved champion of justice in “To Kill a Mockingbird” but a bigot in “Go Set a Watchman.”

On Second Thought For Monday, March 26, 2018

Mar 26, 2018

Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, 86, died Friday morning at his home in Young Harris. Miller was best known for pioneering the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which has provided nearly 9.5 billion dollars in financial assistance to millions of Georgia college students since its creation in 1992. 


Tullio Saba / Flickr

The estate of Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," is suing over an upcoming Broadway adaptation of the classic novel. In the lawsuit, Lee's estate complains about significant differences between the book and the play, which was adapted for the stage by "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. 

What better way to learn about history than to go back in time? Kids at the Jekyll Island Museum’s Time Travelers' Camp get to do just that, metaphorically speaking. They explore a different period of the island's history as far back as a hundred years each day. We speak with Bruce Piatek, director of Historic Resources at The Jekyll Island Authority, and camp counselor Hailee Komaromi about time travel, history, and how campers learn to speak pirate.

Then, we hear about the life of William Jasper “The Goat Man” Franklin who is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

The Real Atticus Finch

Jun 21, 2016
Universal Pictures

The character of Atticus Finch was a hero in his children's eyes, and he's been a hero to children all around the world who have read "To Kill A Mockingbird" or seen the film adaptation. Harper Lee's story of a gentlemanly Southern lawyer who defends a black man charged with the rape of a white woman may be a work of fiction, but our next guest says Atticus Finch is based on a real person: his father.