HARPER LEE QUOTES

American novelist (1926- )

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.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: empathy


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.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it -- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: reading


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.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: courage


You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: family


A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: religion


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

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: justice


I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: conscience


You know, many writers really don't like to write. I think this the chief complaint of so many. They hate to write; they do it under the compulsion that makes any artist the victim he is, but they loathe the process of sitting down trying to turn thoughts into reasonable sentences.

HARPER LEE, interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

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Tags: writing


Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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It's quite a thing, if you've never been in or known a small southern town. The people are not particularly sophisticated, naturally. They're not worldly wise in any way. But they tell you a story whenever they see you.

HARPER LEE, interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

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Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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It's not time to worry yet.

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

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Tags: worry


All I want to be is the Jane Austen of south Alabama.

HARPER LEE, interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

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Tags: Jane Austen


I didn't expect the book to sell in the first place. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected.

HARPER LEE, interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

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I'm not like Thomas Wolfe. I can go home again.

HARPER LEE, interview, Life Magazine, 1961

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Tags: Thomas Wolfe