Author Profile

Marja Mills

Marja Mills

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 and debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list and remained on the list for seven weeks.

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.

"The most interesting moment at the event was at the reception. Jane Henze, our Adult Service Librarian (and with whom you've corresponded) has a 104 year old mother who is more than quite sharp, gets around on a walker, emails and writes letters to the editor to our local weekly newspaper, and is a very large personality in a tiny package. She came in towards the last 20 minutes of the reception and was seated at a table. Next thing you know Marja was there talking to Miss Adeline as if they were long lost friends. Their conversation attracted an audience and those two had a fascinating conversation in front of a dozen people. I had to break it up to get everyone down stairs for the "presentation" part of the evening. I could totally see how Marja befriended Alice Lee and Nelle Harper Lee."
-- Jan Berg, DeForest Area Library, WI

"Event could not have gone better. Marja was an absolute delight. Very dynamic speaker and warm, so people feel like they are visiting with a good friend. Really took special time with everyone she spoke with. Her story is so interesting, and everyone would have loved to listen to her for even longer."
-- Terri Suda, Wauconda Reads Program Coordinator (IL)

"Her talk was interesting throughout. Speaking for myself, at least, "off the cuff" anecdotes she told about her experiences with Harper and Alice Lee were the standout moments. Characters too good for fiction, as they say!"
-- David Katz, Club Book Visiting Writer Series, MN

For more about Marja and her works, go to

Reviews of The Mockingbird Next Door

There are many reasons to be grateful for The Mockingbird Next Door, Marja Mills' wonderful memoir... an atmospheric tale of changing small-town America; of an unlikely, inter-generational friendship between the young author and her elderly subjects; of journalistic integrity; and of grace and fortitude. The Mockingbird Next Door is warm yet wistful...
-- The Washington Post,

I'm grateful for the time Marja Mills spent with both Lee sisters and their perceptive hometown friends . . . a gentle and evocative portrait of Monroeville today . . . Ms. Mills' brief, charming memoir offers a rare picture of the reclusive author in her later years, a valuable addition to Harper Lee lore.
-- Huffington Post,

Videos featuring Marja Mills

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills

A ’Mockingbird’ Rediscovered on Chicago Tonight

Burgers and Books: George Stephanopoulos with Marja Mills

World News Videos | US News Videos

Harper Lee's Neighbor Marja Mills LIVE

Marja Mills on ALIVE