Harper Lee 1926-2016

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As anyone who has read my blog before will know Harper Lee is one of my greatest idols. That is probably why it has taken me more than a month after her passing to write my own tribute to her. It is difficult to write about someone who lets face it, would have written it much better herself but anyway here goes. On the 19th of February last the world lost a true legend. Nelle Harper Lee died at the age of 89. She was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926. She moved to New York in the 1950’s and began working as a ticket agent for a local airline. As well as working other jobs, Lee always pursued her passion for writing. She never gave up on her dream of becoming a writer. Although she had moved from Alabama, the little town of Monroeville and the people of her childhood never really left her.

The first manuscript she submitted to a publisher was called “Go Set a Watchman“.  It was set in the fictional town of Maycomb, a town not unlike the one where Lee herself grew up. After years of rewriting and editing the manuscript it finally evolved into her first novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The book was published in 1960 to rave reviews. In 1961 Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the novel was also adapted into a major motion picture staring Gregory Peck. Mockingbird is the story of a black man called Tom Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman in a small town in Alabama in the 1930’s. Continue reading

A Different Response to Terrorism

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Ever since the attacks in Paris on November 13th I, like many others have been frightened. Every time we turn on the TV there seems to be something else to fear, another threat to watch out for. After spending days looking at images of Paris in the wake of such a terrible tragedy it turned out that the horror may not even be over. The shock had barely worn off when more threats were issued. It was now Belgium’s turn to fear an attack. Brussels went into lock down and still remains on high alert as a result of these attacks. Every city it seemed was looking over its shoulder.

It is impossible to know what to do in these situations. Do we stay in our homes and close the curtains? Do we stop traveling to other countries? Do we respond with violence or by shutting others out? Do we look for people or religions to blame? These seem to be the options that are offered when we listen to the news. I don’t know about you but none of these are very appealing to me. If we do these things it feels like these people have already won. It is hard not to feel desperate and hopeless when we see the damage that was caused by these terrible acts of violence. How do we respond to something that is so difficult to understand in the first place? These are the kinds of questions that have been swirling around in my head and earlier this week I finally got my answer. Continue reading