Happy birthday, Atticus Finch

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It was 50 years ago today that Harper Lee's famed To Kill a Mockingbird was first published.

The tale of a small-town lawyer's heroic battle against racial injustice, it's since gone on to sell 30 million copies and has been translated into 40 languages

But the novel also turned out to be a mixed blessing for its author, who reportedly told her cousin that "when you have a hit like that, you can't go anywhere but down."

While the 84-year-old Lee lives a relatively reclusive life in Monroeville, Ala., her characters also live on, particularly that of lawyer Atticus Finch. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Morris Dees has cited Finch as the inspiration for him deciding to become a lawyer. And in 1963, Gregory Peck received an Academy Award for his definitive depiction of the character.

Later in life, Peck said that, of all his roles, "maybe that was the closest thing to the real me."


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