Harper Lee’s First Editions of To Kill A Mocking Bird
The recent death of Harper Lee on February 19th brings the classic American novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird, to attention. The novel handles issues of race and bigotry in the American South and remains on school reading list to this day. Collecting a first edition of the book is becoming increasing popular and the value increasing.
Harper Lee took two and a half years to write the book and on it’s publication the editorial team warned her that it might be a slow seller. Initially only 5,000 copies were printed on July 11th 1960 and cautiously distributed mainly to libraries. However it’s impact was immediate and fourteen re-printings were made in the first year. The book was selected for three American book clubs and, after being on the best seller list for a hundred weeks, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Since then it has never been out of print and has been distributed in over forty languages.
The iconic status of the book makes it a very desirable collectors item. However, identifying a first edition To Kill A Mocking Bird needs some caution and there are a few key markers to look for. The first US Edition, published in 1960 by J.B. Lippincott Company has a hard cover first edition is brown with a green spine. The dust jacket was printed in four colours, black, white, green, and brown, with a picture of Harper Lee. On the bottom right corner of the photo, is Truman Capote’s name as the photographer. The price of $3.95 is on the bottom of the inside flap of the dust jacket. A main feature of a first edition is the inclusion of “First Edition” on the copyright page.
The first British edition was published in 1960 by Heinemann as a Book Society Choice novel and has a unique illustration of Attitcus Finch on the cover. A photograph of Harper Lee is on the rear cover.
Harper Lee was a reluctant signer of her books and so signed copies are rare and keenly sought after. Her signature is easy to forge and so additional caution needs to be taken when these are on offer. It may be wise to seek specialist assistance in identifying her authentic signature.
Rare and Antique books has a first UK edition of the Book Society Choice publication of 1960. Take a look here.