From The Guardian:
Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by George Bush. Whether or not one of the world’s most publicity-shy literary stars will relish being given America’s highest – and very public – award remains to be seen. According to the citation the reclusive author has been honoured for “an outstanding contribution to America’s literary tradition. At a critical moment in our history, her beautiful book, To Kill a Mockingbird, helped focus the nation on the turbulent struggle for equality.”
Lee was born in Monroeville in 1926, in the deep South, at a time of strict racial segregation. She was a voracious reader who moved to New York determined to become a writer, and succeeded with To Kill A Mockingbird. The book was an instant bestseller and won a Pulitzer prize. It was also made into a hit film starring Gregory Peck, which quickly gained similar “classic” status to the book’s.