Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird: Context

I have a lot of Year 10 students this year, and they’re all doing Text and Context. I’m currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – and as a side effect, I’m finally understanding all those jokes which were in the Inaugual UTS Law Revue last year!

Here are some questions you should consider – answers can be found in the links at the bottom of the page.

Written in mid 1950s, then published in 1960.


  1. When and where was Lee born?
  2. Who was Lee’s father?
  3. What did Lee study briefly in the University of Alabama?
  4. What are the similarities between Lee’s and Scout’s childhoods?


  1. When and where was the Scottsboro Case?
  2. What was the Scottsboro case about?
  3. What demographic were the first juries composed of?
  4. Who was Samuel Leibowitz and how was he regarded by the public?
  5. What evidence did the jury ignore?
  6. DRAW up a table of the similarities between the Scottsboro Case and the Tom Robinson case.


  1. When was the African-American Civil Rights movement?
  2. What was the situation in the Southern states?
  3. What is racial segregation?
  4. What is disfranchisement?
  5. How do the attitudes in Maycomb reflect the different views of the Civil Rights Movement?


  1. What and when was the Wall Street Crash?
  2. How were the rural Southern towns affected?
  3. How do some of the characters (eg. the Cunninghams) reflect the effects of the Great Depression?

Research Links:

2 comments for “Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird: Context

  1. Henry
    July 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

    you use sparknotes as tools for students? sparknotes? when teachers in schools are trying to wean students off these unreliable resources, you are herding them towards it? Amazing!

  2. Jennie
    March 8, 2013 at 1:38 am

    There’s nothing wrong with Sparksnotes to help contextualize literature, especially for struggling students. What teachers should do is help students learn to take that information, think about it critically, and formulate their own coherent thoughts and opinions on the text, outside of secondary resources (reliable or no),

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