PBS NewsHour did a piece about how To Kill a Mockingbird was talked about in 1960 when it first came out.
Harper Lee said:
“I would like to be the chronicler of something that I think is going down the drain very swiftly. And that is small town middle-class southern life,” Lee told Roy Newquist of the New York radio station WQXR. “There is something universal in it. There’s something decent to be said for it and there’s something to lament when it goes, in its passing.”
Flynt said he and many others initially thought “the book was really about race.”
“As time went by, I think the book transcended race,” Flynt said, adding that he had asked Lee the very question that many critics, columnists, essayists and civil rights leaders have debated over several decades: What is the book about?
“‘Oh, you know what the book’s about,’” Flynt said he remembers Lee telling him. Flynt said Lee then asked him the same question.
“I think it’s about power,” Flynt said.
“Of course,” Lee said.
Here is the whole report: PBS NewsHour