The notoriously press-shy author says book, written in the mid-1950s, will once again feature Scout and her father, Atticus Finch.
Today, the AP reports that the publisher Harper will release a sequel of sorts to To Kill a Mockingbird. And, unlike the many poorly thought-out sequels and franchises to which we’ve become inured, this novel actually sounds like it will be worth a damn.
Nelle Harper Lee. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Lee, 88, said via a statement that she had actually written Go Set a Watchman before To Kill a Mockingbird, and it features a grown-up Scout, returned to fictional Maycomb, Alabama from New York to visit her father. That novel’s flashback scenes later became the basis for To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lee said that though she thought Go Set a Watchman “a decent effort” her editor persuaded her that a novel from young Scout’s perspective would be more compelling. It may not have been the worst advice ever given, as the Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird is recognized as a classic of American literature. Now, 60 years after Lee’s first effort was completed, the public will finally have a chance to compare the two books, and at long last get a look at what kind of a woman Mockingbird’s beloved narrator Scout turned out to be. According to Lee’s publisher, Go Set a Watchman is set in Maycomb in the 1950s, and will “grapple with issues both personal and political” including the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.
According to the Harper statement, the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was found by Lee’s current lawyer, Tonja Carter, a somewhat controversial figure in Lee’s late life. Lee said in the statement “I hadn’t realized it (the original manuscript) survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer discovered it.” Lee also said that she decided it was worthy of publication after sharing the book with a few trusted confidants.
While literature lovers are no doubt rejoicing, the hardcore publishing world nerds who have been following the intrigue swirling around Lee’s later years are determining for themselves how this new, unexpected chapter fits into the publicity-shy author’s mysterious life.
According to Harper, Go Set a Watchman will be released, unrevised, July 14, nearly 55 years to the day after the first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird was published.