Monroeville Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee

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Storm clouds build in the sky, as the balmy, evening wind ushers audience members through the Old Courthouse doors. There is a man on trial this evening, a man with little hope of escaping the drama that will play out before him. The hushed din of voices echoes around the courtroom while the defense attorney stares intently at the sheath of papers in his hand. The trial is about to begin and silence ensues as the judge enters the courtroom and everyone is told to rise.

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The man on trial is the character Tom Robinson from the Pulitzer Prize winning book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And, the scene is from the stage adaptation that takes place annually in the Old Courtroom Museum in Monroeville, Alabama.


Monroeville, located about 100 miles southeast of Alabama's capital Montgomery, is a charming small town and known as the home to Harper Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote. Visitors from around the globe come to explore the town and connections to Lee's famous book, To Kill A Mockingbird.

The story focuses on a black man (Tom Robinson) who is falsely accused of raping a white woman in Alabama's depression era. Robinson's appointed lawyer Atticus Finch and his two children, Scout and Jem, struggle against the racism of the '30s and a mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley.

Each year, the Mockingbird players, an all-local cast that have also performed globally, stage an incredible and poignant two-act performance of TKM on the courthouse lawn and in the Old Courthouse Museum (book ahead, the performances sell out quickly). The performance is riveting and the audience is part of a drama that would be impossible to experience by reading the book or watching the movie that starred Gregory Peck.

In addition, the cast members embody the characters so convincingly, you'll find yourself holding your breath at times, or wishing you could take the stand yourself.

The Old Courthouse Museum is open to the public during the day. Walk through the courtroom where Lee's father was a lawyer in court, while she often watched from the balcony. Visit two rooms in the Courthouse Heritage Museum that feature Harper Lee and Truman Capote, replete with fascinating histories, photos, memorabilia and stills from the TKM movie.

Many fans of Lee's book often wonder if Boo Radely was a real person. If you ask the town's people, they will tell you he is and point out his home that you can see on the Monroeville Walking Tour.

>a href="" target="new">Monroeville, considered the literary capital, is a small, yet charismatic town that beckons to be explored, a town that still resonates warm summer nights, cricket chirps and sweet tea on the porch. Yet, it is filled with numerous shops, excellent art galleries, restaurants and a wonderful walking tour that focuses on three different aspects of the town's past and present. The tour even ventures past Lee's high school and her old home site with loads of information, photos and anecdotes about Lee and the captivating town of Monroeville.

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is an experienced travel photojournalist and editor of Travel Excursion and Seattle Spotlight for Positively Entertainment magazine. In addition, she writes a monthly travel column for the award-wining site and is a regular contributor on travel radio shows. She is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and the Recording Academy. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous international publications, as well as NW newspapers such as the Seattle Times, the Stranger and Seattle Weekly. Patrice travels the globe to cover destinations that feature fascinating culture, art, culinary, history and soft adventure.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: February 19, 2016

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