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An insight into life in America in the 1930s including an overview of the real life story that inspired Harper Lee to create the character Tom Robinson. Life in South America in the 1930s is represented through black and white photographs, cinematic footage and references to political and social developments as narrator Andy Kershaw paints a picture of the society inhabited by Harper Lee when writing the novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Kershaw refers to the Ku Klux Klan and the strong sense of racial inequality even following the American government's abolition of slavery and discusses how ineffectual this was for everyday people living in Southern American states. The story of nine black men in the 1930s falsely accused of the rape of two white women inspired Harper Lee to create her character Tom Robinson.
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First broadcast:
16 January 2008

Classroom Ideas

Can be used to build up a historical context dossier, to be used in later analyses and writing about the novel. Students are given a list of contents with a variety of headings, such as: segregation, slavery, white supremecy, the justice system, songs/ poetry and other culture. Students have a page for each in their books. Each page is split down the middle, into a side for 'historical facts' and a side for 'ideas in the novel'. Students begin to fill in the pages by using information from the clip, but return to the dossier at regular intervals, perhaps for five minutes at the end of each lesson, to add notes and expand on previous ideas.

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