30 Harper Lee Quotes on Integrity and Compassion


To Kill a Mockingbird is a modern literature classic. It is acclaimed for its warmth and humor despite dealing with racial inequality. Atticus Finch, the narrator’s father, has since become an epitome of morality and integrity, especially for lawyers. Surely, there are many lessons about life and humanity to be found in its pages.

Harper Lee was an American novelist. She was born on April 28, 1926. She developed an interest in English literature during her high school years. She then attended the University of Alabama, studying law for many years. Lee didn’t finish her law degree, opting to leave one semester before its completion.

In 1949, she relocated to New York City. There, she worked at a bookstore and as an airline reservation agent. Nearly a decade later, she sent out the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman to publishers. The manuscript underwent several revisions and was retitled To Kill a Mockingbird before getting published in 1960.

Upon its release, To Kill a Mockingbird was an instant commercial and critical success. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year. Even up to now, Lee’s novel remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print.

If you’ve never read the book and don’t mind some spoilers, here is one of the most exciting parts of the book. And yes, Scout is dressed as a ham.

To Kill a Mockingbird has since become an American modern literature classic. The Mockingbird draft, Go Set a Watchman, was later published in 2015. While she only published two books, the author was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. A few years later, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts. At the age of 89, Lee died in her sleep on February 19, 2016.

Here are 30 Harper Lee quotes to commemorate the author’s brilliance and compassion in her work.

Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends. – Harper Lee

There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible. – Harper Lee

If you did not want much, there was plenty. – Harper Lee

harper lee want quotes

Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent. – Harper Lee

The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience. – Harper Lee

harper lee conscience quotes

Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along. – Harper Lee

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived. – Harper Lee

Don’t you study about other folks’s business till you take care of your own. – Harper Lee

harper lee business quotes

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. – Harper Lee

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. – Harper Lee

It’s better to be silent than to be a fool. – Harper Lee

harper lee fool quotes

Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts. – Harper Lee

People in their right minds never take pride in their talents. – Harper Lee

As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. – Harper Lee

harper lee truth quotes

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. – Harper Lee

It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. – Harper Lee

Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. – Harper Lee

harper lee courage quotes

There are just some kind of men who-who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results. – Harper Lee

Man’s capacity to love is measured by his degree of freedom from the drives that turn inward upon him. As one holds down a cork to the bottom of a stream, so may love be imprisoned by self: remove self, and love rises to the surface of man’s being. – Harper Lee

We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple. – Harper Lee

harper lee tribute quotes

I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy—it’s a matter of balance. – Harper Lee

You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fightin’ with your head for a change. – Harper Lee

I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. – Harper Lee

harper lee folks quotes

Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about? – Harper Lee

That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? – Harper Lee

Everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowing. – Harper Lee

harper lee learn quotes

As sure as time, history is repeating itself, and as sure as man is man, history is the last place he’ll look for his lessons. – Harper Lee

Things are always better in the morning. – Harper Lee

harper lee morning quotes

Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in. – Harper Lee

Things are never as bad as they seem. – Harper Lee

Share these 30 Harper Lee quotes to remind us of the importance of kindness, fairness, and a person’s conscience.

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