Like the Christ child himself, Atticus Finch was born on Christmas. It was 1956, and Nelle Harper Lee would not be heading home to Alabama for the holidays. She couldn’t get time off from her job as an airline reservationist, so she spent Christmas with her closest friends in New York, Michael and Joy Brown and their two boys. Nelle had shared with the Browns the short stories that she wrote in the little free time that she had—humorous, heartwarming tales of small town southern life that reminded Michael of his own childhood growing up in east Texas. He liked them so much that he recommended Nelle to his agents, Maurice Crain and Annie Laurie Williams, a husband-and-wife team who ran one of the most successful agencies in New York.
Crain read Nelle’s stories and saw real promise in them. But he thought that she should write a novel, which would be easier to sell. It was good advice, but no simple thing to do, not with her airline job, which she needed to make ends meet. Around this same time, Michael experienced a windfall from a musical comedy special that he had sold. That’s when he and Joy had an idea. On Christmas morning, they put an envelope on the tree marked “Nelle.” Inside was a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”
Stunned, Nelle responded with a litany of objections. Were they crazy? It was too much money. What if the children got sick? As the Browns batted down each one, it dawned on her that this wasn’t an act of generosity, it was an act of love. Emboldened by their “fearless optimism,” Lee was determined to honor the faith that her friends had shown in her. ... [mehr] https://lithub.com/how-a-christmas-present-gave-harper-lee-the-time-to-write-to-kill-a-mockinbird/