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Marja Mills  

Author and Former Chicago Tribune Journalist; Known for "The Mockingbird Next Door"

Marja Mills is a former reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, where she was a member of the staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for a 2001 series about O’Hare Airport entitled “Gateway to Gridlock.” "The Mockingbird Next Door" is her first book.

In 2001, Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and her sister Alice opened their door to Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation—and a wonderful friendship.

In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next 18 months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Harper, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees and their inner circle of friends.

Harper shared her love of history, literature and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their stories, Nelle helped make sure she was getting that—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family. “The Mockingbird Next Door” is the story of Mills’s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is also a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit and tremendous storytelling power of these two women.

Mills was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She is a 1985 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; a lifelong interest in other cultures led to studies in Paraguay, Spain and Sweden. Mills lives in downtown Chicago and often spends time in Madison and her father’s hometown of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, pop. 3,500.


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