10 Powerful Harper Lee Quotes

10 Powerful Harper Lee Quotes
Image credit: Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Today would have marked the 90th birthday of esteemed novelist Harper Lee, who passed away this past February. Lee's death came shortly after the release of her second book Go Set A Watchmen. The book provided another in-depth look into the lives of beloved characters from her first best seller, To Kill A Mockingbird. Both novels sparked intense interest and debate across the country.

The novelist was famous for refusing interviews and appearances for the majority of her life. Lee very seldom spoke publicly, giving only one in-depth interview in the 1960s.

Related: 5 Inspirational, and Biting, Quotes From Antonin Scalia

Here’s a roundup of the author’s (rare) statements in life, and on the page:

1. “It's better to be silent than to be a fool.”

- Alabama Academy of Honor "speech" 2007

2. “Some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.”

-  letter to Oprah in 2006

3. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

4.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, To Kill A Mockingbird

5. “Naturally, you don't sit down in 'white hot inspiration' and write with a burning flame in front of you. But since I knew I could never be happy being anything but a writer, and Mockingbird put itself together for me so accommodatingly, I kept at it because I knew it had to be my first novel, for better or for worse.”

- Interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

6.  “All I want to be is the Jane Austen of south Alabama.”

- WQXR radio station in New York

7. “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

8. “The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”

- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

9. “You see, more than a simple matter of putting down words, writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer.”

- Interview with Roy Newquist, Counterpoints, 1964

10. “People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”

- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Related: 23 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur