To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s renowned coming-of-age story about racism and injustice in the American south, was voted the US’s best-loved novel by millions of readers as part of a national poll.
The Pulitzer prize-winning book, first published in 1960, topped the US public service broadcaster PBS’s Great American Read survey, the results of which were announced on Tuesday. More than 4 million votes were cast in the six-month long poll.
The 100-book shortlist voted on by readers was based on an initial PBS/YouGov survey of about 7,200 Americans who were invited to nominate their favourite novel. An advisory panel of experts from the literary industry culled the list to 100 books. Authors were limited to one title or series. Provided the novel was written in English, authors could be from anywhere in the world.
Seven out of the top 10 novels were written by women, with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series coming in second, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter taking third place, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice coming in fourth. JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings rounded out the top five, and was the top ranking novel by a male writer.
To Kill A Mockingbird has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide since its release and remains a fixture on school reading lists. Set in the 1930s US south, it centres on lawyer Atticus Finch and his young children, daughter Scout and son Jem. When Finch defends an African-American man falsely accused of assaulting a white woman, the trial and its repercussions open Scout’s eyes to the world around her.
It was the only novel Lee published during her lifetime. The posthumous publication of a companion novel, Go Set A Watchman, in 2015, was the cause of much controversy. Read more