Books on Broad, Thursday, July 21, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Shields' biography of Kurt Vonnegut will be released in November 2011 by Henry Holt & Co.
On Thursday, July 21 Charles Shields will join us for Books on Broad at the Library of Virginia to discuss the biographical research he conducted on Harper Lee and Kurt Vonnegut. Books on Broad brings readers and writers together in an informal setting. The first 45 minutes of the program is a wine and cheese reception followed by author talk and discussion. Free, secure parking is available under the Library, with access on both 8th and 9th streets. Call the Virginia Shop for more information at 804.692.3524.

Charles Shields spent four years researching and writing Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (Henry Holt & Co). A former English teacher who taught Harper Lee’s novel for a number of years, he later became a writer of nonfiction books for young people. For Mockingbird, he interviewed over 600 of Harper Lee’s neighbors, childhood friends, law school classmates, and Kansas residents who became her friends while she was helping Truman Capote research In Cold Blood in Kansas.

As a result of Shields’ research into Truman Capote’s papers, the papers of Harper Lee’s agent, and the archives in the courthouse and historical museum in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, information never before known appears in this insightful portrait of the Pulitzer prize-winning author, who stopped giving interviews in 1964. From her beginnings as an Alabama tomboy, to her novel’s beginnings as a handful of stories, to a rough draft called Atticus, to its present form as one of the most popular books of the 20th century, the story of To Kill a Mockingbird and its author is told here for the first time. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee was a New York Times bestseller, a Quill Award nominee in the category of biography, a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate, and winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award for best biography of 2007.

Shields received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in American history from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He resides in central Virginia with his wife, Guadalupe.