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4 Awesome Things Harper Lee Did After To Kill a Mockingbird

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Up until 2015's Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee—who passed away today at the age of 89—was often referred to as a literary one-hit wonder. But while the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird only published two novels, she still accomplished some incredible things.

1. SHE ROASTED A SMALL-MINDED SCHOOL BOARD.

In 1966, a Virginia school board unanimously elected to ban all copies of To Kill a Mockingbird from its libraries, citing the book as “immoral." Outraged, Lee wrote a fiery letter to the Richmond News Leader condemning the group’s actions. “Recently,” she wrote, “I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.” Lee went on to compare the officials in question to Orwellian dictators and capped off her epic beat-down by enclosing “a small contribution … that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.”  

2. SHE HELPED TRUMAN CAPOTE WORK ON IN COLD BLOOD.

Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote asked her to accompany him on a trip to the small town of Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 to investigate the recent murder of a wealthy family under mysterious circumstances. It didn’t take long for Capote to discover that his companion had a much easier time talking to the locals, an ability which proved invaluable to his efforts. Lee was so dedicated to the case that she wrote 150 pages of notes for Capote (who reportedly ignored her suggestion to make the victims more complex). Capote’s best-selling account of the incident, In Cold Blood, became an instant sensation.

3. SHE WAS AWARDED THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM.

Lee made a rare public appearance in 2007 to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Fellow recipients that year included geneticist Francis Collins, former House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Henry Hyde, and civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks. (See Lee claiming her prize at the 32:36 mark of the above clip).

4. SHE WROTE AN IMPASSIONED DEFENSE OF BOOKS AND LIBRARIES.

In 2006, Lee composed an open letter to Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine that discussed her love of books:

“[In] an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up—some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal."

This article originally ran in 2014.

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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Harry Potter's Childhood Home Can Be Yours for $1.3 Million
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Carter Jonas

Harry Potter may have spent his childhood years sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive, but his origin story really begins at Godric’s Hollow, the quaint village where Harry's parents lived when he was a baby. There, Voldemort first met his downfall and Harry became “The Boy Who Lived.” Now, The Telegraph reports that the historic home that served as Godric’s Hollow in 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is on the market—giving fans the rare chance to own a fictional piece of wizarding history.

Known as the de Vere House, the historic home is located in the medieval village of Lavenham, in Suffolk, England. The country’s wealthiest non-royal family, the de Veres, owned the home from the 14th to the 17th centuries, and it’s said that King Henry VIII once paid a visit to the property during a hunting trip in 1498.

According to current homeowners Tony and Jane Ranzetta, Harry Potter producers used creative editing techniques to transform footage of the de Vere House into the village of Godric’s Hollow: "The crew arrived without actors and filmed both the front and the back in the height of summer,” Tony told The Telegraph in 2012. "They then used parts of the house like pieces of a massive three dimensional jigsaw, cutting and pasting them to form the streets of Godric's Hollow.”

Historic and pop culture credentials aside, de Vere House—a six-bedroom structure that's currently divided in two—is replete with entertaining spaces, and has two kitchens and a dining room. The backyard has a flower garden and an outdoor dining terrace, and the property also contains an old stable, garden shacks, and a kitchen garden.

This isn’t the first time de Vere House has hit the market: The Ranzettas first listed the home for sale in 2012, but for unknown reasons, it didn’t sell. That said, it’s naturally a magnet for tourists, so whoever purchases it will need to be comfortable with cameras—and with shelling out a cool £995,000 (about $1.3 million) for their magical new digs.

Check out some photos of Harry Potter’s “birthplace” below, or visit the home’s online listing for more details.

The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

 The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

 The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

 The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

 The historic De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, which was used in the 'Harry Potter' films to create Godric’s Hollow, is for sale.
Carter Jonas

[h/t The Telegraph]

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