Harper Lee to receive White House honour
- 31 October 2007
The author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, is to be honoured with America’s highest civilian honour by President George W Bush.
Lee, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her only novel, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was established by President Kennedy for remarkable achievements.
The notoriously reclusive 81-year-old is expected to attend the ceremony at the White House on November 5, despite having made just one appearance outside Alabama in 33 years.
In a recent interview with The Oprah Magazine, one of the few times she has spoken publicly, she commented ‘I still plod along with books’.
The White House said in a statement her book about racial tension in the Deep South had made ‘an outstanding contribution to America’s literary tradition’.
It added: ‘At a critical moment in our history, her beautiful book, To Kill A Mockingbird, helped focus the nation on the turbulent struggle for equality.’
To Kill A Mockingbird was made into a film in 1962, winning Gregory Peck an Oscar for his portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch.
Lee will be joined at the ceremony by Francis Collins, who led the human genome project, and former congressman Henry Hyde, who pushed to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.