Joe Crespino

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.