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Harper Lee

  • You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

  • Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings.

  • Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

  • ... as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.

  • Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. ... Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

  • The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

  • ... it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you.

  • ... I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

  • Again, as I had often met it in my own church, I was confronted with the Impurity of Women doctrine that seemed to preoccupy all clergymen.

  • Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.

  • Judge Taylor was on the bench, looking like a sleepy old shark, his pilot fish writing rapidly below in front of him.

  • Never, never, never, on cross-examination ask a witness a question you don't already know the answer to, was a tenet I absorbed with my baby-food. Do it, and you'll often get an answer you don't want, an answer that might wreck your case.

  • Just-in-your-own words was Mr. Gilmer's trademark. We often wondered who else's words Mr. Gilmer was afraid his witness might employ.

  • ... I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.

  • Characters make their own plot. The dimensions of the characters determine the action of the novel.

    • Harper Lee,
    • in Roy Newquist, Counterpoint ()
  • I do much of my creative thinking while golfing. If people know you are working at home they think nothing of walking in for a cup of coffee. But they wouldn't dream of interrupting you on the golf course.

    • Harper Lee
  • ... before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself.

  • There are just some kind of men … who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one.

  • Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.

  • With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.

  • People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.

  • Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.

  • Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of [another] ...

Harper Lee, U.S. writer

(1926 - 2016)

Full name: Nelle Harper Lee.