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Greetings from Monroeville, Alabama

Monroeville, Alabama, hometown to author Harper Lee, has come to be known as the state’s literary capital.

Monroeville, Alabama, was the hometown of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and has come to be known as the state’s literary capital, a role the residents of the town have embraced.

Mayor Charles Andrews; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

1 of 13/ Mayor Charles Andrews

Charles Andrews, mayor of Monroeville, the small town in southwest Alabama where Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was born. Andrews is the town’s first Black mayor and a deacon at Antioch Baptist Church #3. “My father passed when I was five,” he says. “The men in the church mentored me.”


Local historian Rabun Williams; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

2 of 13/ Celebrating Harper Lee

Rabun Williams, a local historian, in Monroeville’s Old County Courthouse, now a museum where Harper Lee memorabilia is displayed.

Carly Jo Martens; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

3 of 13/ Carly Jo Martens

Martens, a Monroeville resident, stands in the town’s famous courtroom, a reproduction of which appears in the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck as lawyer Atticus Finch. When she was 10, she played the role of Scout in the town’s stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird; she now directs that annual production. “I love seeing what my neighbors bring to the roles,” she says. “They really get to know and understand these characters on a deep level.”

 


George Thomas Jones; photo by Michael A. Scwarz

4 of 13/ George Thomas Jones

Jones, a World War II veteran, is a longtime columnist for The Monroe Journal. The 99-year-old was a contemporary of both Harper Lee and fellow Monroeville resident, Truman Capote. Jones knew both Harper (known locally as Nelle) and her lawyer father (Jones caddied for him as a teen), on whom Lee modeled the character Atticus Finch.

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Johnna Bush's mural 'Literary Giants'; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

5 of 13/ 'Literary Giants'

One of the many murals in downtown Monroeville is this one by artist Johnna Bush, who wanted to honor 10 local writers whose work has helped Monroeville earn the distinction as Alabama’s Literary Capital.


Arthur L. Bairnsfather's 1939 mural 'Harvesting'; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

6 of 13/ 'Harvesting'

Inside Monroeville’s post office is this New Deal-era mural titled, “Harvesting.” Painted in 1939 by Arthur L. Bairnsfather, the oil-on-canvas painting depicts a farmer using a three-mule team to pull a threshing machine across a wheat field. The mural is one of the surviving works of President Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA program.  The mural was restored in 1985 by John Bertalan, a native of Birmingham, who specializes in art restoration.


Various editions of To Kill a Mockingbird; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

7 of 13/ Multiple Editions of a Literary Classic

Various editions of Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic are displayed in the courthouse museum. To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.

A private mailbox pays tribute to 'Mockingbird'; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

8 of 13/ To Kill a Mockingbird Mailbox

Motifs from To Kill a Mockingbird pop up everywhere around town—even its mailboxes.

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The historic courtoom in the Old Courthouse Museum; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

9 of 13/ A Historic Courtroom

The preserved courtroom’s unusual feature: The person testifying sat directly in front of the judicial bench, with their back to the judge.

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Branko Medencia's sculpture 'A Celebration of Reading'; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

10 of 13/ A Celebration of Reading

Branko Medencia’s sculpture on the courthouse lawn, meant to inspire children to become lifelong readers, depicts three children reading. A barefoot girl in pigtails, meant to suggest To Kill a Mockingbird’s Scout, sits on the bench rapt in a book, while two boys peer over her shoulder. Visitors can sit next to the girl and pose for pictures.


A tribute to Monroeville-born writer Cynthia Tucker; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

11 of 13/ Literary Capital Sculpture Trail

The Trail consists of 14 bronze sculptures on permanent exhibit that honor the 10 writers credited with making Monroeville the Literary Capital of Alabama. This piece honors Monroeville-born Cynthia Tucker who received a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Sweet Home Alabama mural; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

12 of 13/ Sweet Home Alabama mural

This downtown mural, showing the location of Monroeville, is part of the town’s smART Moves Mural Trail, which features 15 small selfie-style murals designed to motivate people to walk throughout the town, patronizing shops and meeting friends along the way.

The historic Monroeville Courthouse; photo by Michael A. Schwarz

13 of 13/ The Historic Old County Courthouse

The striking dome of the historic Monroeville Courthouse, now a musuem. The courthouse served as inspiration for memorable scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird and inspired the set design of the 1962 film adaptation.

 

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