There’s plenty of book buzz this week over the announcement of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers acquiring the North American rights to a newly discovered novel by Harper Lee, beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel, which Lee titled Go Set a Watchman will be published on July 14th, 2015.
Harper Lee says, “In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.
I hadn’t realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”
Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
After To Kill a Mockingbird was published by J. B. Lippincott in 1960, Harper Lee set aside Go Set a Watchman and never returned to it. The original manuscript of the novel was considered to have been lost until fall 2014, when Tonja Carter discovered it in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.
“I, along with millions of others around the world, always wished that Harper Lee had written another book. And what a brilliant book this is. I love Go Set a Watchman, and know that this masterpiece will be revered for generations to come,” says Michael Morrison.
Jonathan Burnham, Senior Vice President and Publisher, Harper, says, “This is a remarkable literary event. The existence of Go Set a Watchman was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of To Kill a Mockingbird. Reading in many ways like a sequel to Harper Lee’s classic novel, it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter’s relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s.”
Go Set a Watchman will be published in the UK and Commonwealth by William Heinemann, an imprint of Penguin Random House Inc.