Monroeville is best known as the hometown of two famous novelists, Harper Lee and Truman Capote. It’s also hometown to novelist Mark Childress and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Cynthia Tucker. This small south Alabama town, between Mobile and Montgomery, is known as the “Literary Capital of Alabama” and home of the annual Alabama Writers Symposium. A town that “To Kill A Mockingbird” writer, Harper Lee, called home until she died in 2016 at the age of 89.
Scout, Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and Atticus Finch, came to life in this town. Harper’s dad, A. C. Lee, was her inspiration for Atticus. Harper’s childhood friend, Capote, was her inspiration for Dill. They really are the heart and soul of Monroeville, as you can see in the mural near the courthouse square.
Monroeville serves as the county seat of Monroe County, Alabama. The Old Monroe County Courthouse, in the heart of Monroeville, serves as a central part of the book and movie.
According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the first courthouse burned in 1833.
A new courthouse was constructed in the 1850s and burned again in 1928. It was restored and remained in use until 1963, when the current courthouse was built. After To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, the courthouse gained national attention.
In 1963 the community was preparing for the Monroe County offices to move out of the old courthouse and into a new building, which led to meetings about the best way to preserve the courthouse.
They decided it would be best to turn the courthouse into a museum. The Old Courthouse Museum opened in 1968 and became a part time attraction for visitors who came to see the town that inspired the book. By 1991 the museum was open full time.
Every spring since 1991, the Mockingbird Players have performed the “To Kill A Mockingbird” play in the heart of the town. The play is performed outside of AND inside the old courthouse. It’s a powerful experience to see “To Kill A Mockingbird” come to life in Harper Lee’s hometown.
The Mockingbird Players ensure you see and experience the town as it would have been in the 1930s. In fact, any white male over the age of 18 can be called for jury duty. If selected, he’s asked to sit in the jury box with fellow jurors during the courtroom scene.