To Kill a Mockingbird Named America's Favorite Novel
Several modern bestsellers appear on PBS's list of America's 100 favorite books, but it's a 58-year-old classic that nabbed the top spot. As TIME reports, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird has been named the best-loved novel in the country following a nationwide survey.
PBS compiled a list of beloved books back in Spring 2018 in preparation for its series The Great American Read. After collecting votes from 4 million readers over four months, the most popular books were announced on October 23. To Kill a Mockingbird is joined in the top 10 by such classics as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Several fantasy books also rank high on the list, including JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series, and C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.
Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in 1956, at age 30, after receiving a generous gift of one year's salary from friends that allowed her to leave her day job. The daughter of a lawyer, the Alabama native drew heavily from her own life while writing the story. Lee was convinced the book would fail, but it was an immediate hit when it was published in 1960, earning a Pulitzer Prize and inspiring an Oscar-winning film adaptation that was released in 1962. Today it continues to sell close to 1 million copies each year.
To Kill a Mockingbird remained Lee's sole published work up until the release of Go Set a Watchman in 2015, but her accomplishments didn't end there. Lee, who passed away in 2016, also collaborated with her friend Truman Capote, defended the importance of libraries, and won a Presidential Medal of Freedom during her 89-year life. Her first book's new title as the most-beloved novel in America is just the latest addition to her legacy.