John M. Williams, a professor in Reinhardt University's MFA program, has published Monroeville and the Stage Production of To Kill a Mockingbird, relating to one of the most famous novels in history.
His book chronicles the extraordinary journey of the Mockingbird Players as they performed to save the old Monroe County, Alabama courthouse. Monroeville is author Harper Lee’s hometown and where her famous book and the movie was set. Volunteers, amateur performers, and director Kathy McCoy took the show from a very modest beginning to worldwide success. The town got behind the play and built Monroeville as a literary destination. The irony is that Harper Lee didn’t want the play done and never attended.
William’s eclectic book is for anyone who likes human interest stories or likes to learn things they didn’t know before. It features a wealth of interesting side stories about the colorful history of the area, controversies, famous people, endeavors of the cast and tribulations of the local museum. “It is about Monroeville and the people, as much as it is about the play,” Williams explained, “These amateur actors were naturals. Their characters were as colorful as the characters they portrayed. They were really interesting people.” A wealth of photographs is included, many never-before published. Williams says the hardest part of completing his book was tracking down those historical photos.
Williams was named Georgia Author of the Year for First Novel in 2002, has written numerous plays and has published a variety of books through the years. When asked why he chose this topic he said, “I didn’t pick it, it picked me.” When he met McCoy about performing his co-authored play Hiram: Becoming Hank, she asked him to write a book about the production history of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Williams will give a public presentation Thursday, March 16 at 7pm at Reinhardt University.