THE AUTHOR WHO INSPIRED ME TO WRITE
These words spoken by the writer about the fame of her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, ring in my ears as numerous sites flooded with the news of her recent demise: Author Harper Lee, aged 89, dies in sleep. The wound is fresh and raw enough to incite Hannibal Lecter.
Being a literature geek and spending sleepless nights rummaging through online literary magazines, I came across an article, one night, about Harper Lee's letter to an editor regarding the banning of her novel by a school board that considered it "immoral literature":
"I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice."
Amused and impressed by her wit and zest, I decided to buy a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that very day. And so, I spent the summer I turned 15 reading the first female author who inspired me to write.
Talking to my teachers and various seniors over the last few years, I have noticed there is a multitude of reasons why Harper Lee is revered. Other than her articulate voice with which she brought up the controversial yet crucial theme underlying her novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, like every great writer that has ever lived, she created characters like Scout, Boo Radley and my personal favourite, Atticus Finch, who lived with the readers long after her books were exhausted. While reading the novels in a Southern American English accent (we have already established I am a geek), I realised how much Atticus Finch shaped my ideals as a teenager until I read it again last autumn to gear up for Go Set a Watchman. The marked lines and light scribbles I made on my second-hand copy reminded me of a younger self who turned to Atticus Finch for a father figure.
Harper Lee has inspired many to become writers, lawyers and human rights activists. She has been a revolutionary in the way she knew best – writing, and her characters have inspired readers to be conscientious, courageous and judicious. Undeniably, it takes one writer to change your entire perception of the world and Harper Lee was that author to generations of people that came after her and emerge every day, while she lived a quiet, unglamorous and humble life. After all, "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents."