Atticus Finch Biography

From 'To Kill A Mockingbird," Great American Classic Novel

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch is one of the greatest fictional figures in American literature. Both in the book and in the film, Atticus stands larger-than-life, bold-and-courageous against the falsehood and injustice. He risks his life and his career (seemingly without care), as he defends a Black man against charges of rape (which were based on lies, fear, and ignorance).

Where Atticus Appears (and Inspiration for This Character):

Atticus first appears in Harper Lee's only novel, ​​To Kill a Mockingbird. He is said to have been based on Lee's own father, Amasa Lee, (which puts a possible autobiographical slant to this famous novel). Amasa held a number of positions (including a bookkeeper and financial manager)--he also practiced law in Monroe County, and his writing explored race-relations topics.

When he prepared for the role of Atticus Finch in the film version, ​Gregory Peck went to Alabama and met Lee's father. (He appears to have died in 1962, the same year the Academy-Award-winning film was released).

His Relationships

During the course of the novel, we discover that his wife died, though we never find out how she died. Her death has left a gaping hole in the family, which has been (at least partially) filled by their housekeeper/cook (Calpurnia, a stern disciplinarian). There is no mention of Atticus in relation to other women in the novel, which seems to suggest that he is focused on doing his job (making a difference, and pursuing justice), while he raises his children, Jem (Jeremy Atticus Finch) and Scout (Jean Louise Finch).

His Career 

Atticus is a Maycomb lawyer, and he appears to be descended from an old local family. He's well-known in the community, and he appears to be well respected and liked. However, his decision to defend Tom Robinson against the false charges of rape lands him in a great deal of trouble.

The Scottsboro Case, a legal court case involving nine Black accused and convicted under extremely dubious evidence, occurred in 1931--when Harper Lee was five-years-old. This case is also an inspiration for the novel.

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Lombardi, Esther. "Atticus Finch Biography." ThoughtCo, Dec. 31, 2020, Lombardi, Esther. (2020, December 31). Atticus Finch Biography. Retrieved from Lombardi, Esther. "Atticus Finch Biography." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).