Nelle Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016) was an American novelist best known for her 1960, Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. A runaway success, the novel gained instant popularity and was read widely in high schools and middle schools in the United States, it has become a classic of modern American literature. The story and characters in the novel are based on Lee's observations of her own family and the racist attitudes in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The novel deals with the absurdity of adult behavior towards race and class in the American South during the period, as seen through the eyes of two children. Despite dealing with the issues of rape and racial prejudice, the novel is notable for its warmth and humor. Lee grew up the youngest of four children, her father was a lawyer who served on the state legislature. As a child, Lee was a tomboy and an avid reader, and enjoyed a lifelong friendship with her schoolmate and neighbor, Truman Capote. Lee only published two books, yet she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contribution to literature. She also received numerous honorary degrees.