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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 10:30 GMT
Author Lee to receive US honour
Harper Lee receives an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, US
Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird explored racial prejudice in America
Author Harper Lee is to be given America's highest civilian honour by President George W Bush for her outstanding contribution to literature.

Her only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which was a plea for racial tolerance, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

The award will be presented to Lee during a ceremony at the White House on 5 November.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was reinstated in 1963 by President Kennedy to honour remarkable achievements.

Falsely accused

Past recipients of the honour include Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin and Doris Day.

Lee, 81, who stopped giving interviews after winning the Pulitzer Prize, rarely makes public appearances.

The film version of To Kill A Mockingbird, made in 1962, won an Oscar for actor Gregory Peck.

He played laywer Atticus Finch, a lawyer who represented a black man who was falsely accused of rape.

In a rare article published in The Oprah Magazine last year, Lee said that in a society where technology prevails, "I still plod along with books".

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