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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 08:19 GMT
Author Lee receives top US honour
Harper Lee and President George W Bush
To Kill A Mockingbird was made into a film in 1962
Author Harper Lee has been presented with 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.

Lee was given The Presidential Medal of Freedom for remarkable achievements at the ceremony at White House.

Speaking at the event, President Bush said each of the recipients had "earned the respect of the American people."

He added that they all "hold a unique place in the story of our time".

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was reinstated in 1963 by President Kennedy.

Rare appearance

Economist Gary Becker and 1992 Nobel Prize winner and human rights advocate Oscar Elias Biscet were also honoured at the same ceremony.

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 lawyer 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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