Book lovers were delighted by today’s surprise announcement that reclusive To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee (above) is releasing a follow up to her classic novel this July.
The new book, Go Set a Watchman, follows Mockingbird protagonist Scout as a grown woman, returning from New York to her home town of Maycomb to visit her father Atticus Finch. Set 20 years after the events of the first novel, Scout will be “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political” as she confronts her father’s attitude toward society and her own feelings about her home town.
According to the publisher, HarperCollins, the manuscript was in fact written before Lee’s most famous work, and only surfaced recently after having been thought lost for half a century. HarperCollins executive Jonathan Burnham described the discovery as 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,” he said.
Sian McNabney, an employee at Abbey’s Bookshop in Sydney, told The Newsroom she is “very excited and curious” about what lies in store for Scout in this new instalment. She and her co-workers were stunned by the news, and expect high demand for Lee’s new novel.
Ms McNabney said “you never hear anything about Harper Lee, any statement regarding her at all is going to be a bit of a shock”.
In a rare statement, the famously media-shy Lee said that not even she had known the manuscript still existed, but was “surprised and delighted” when it was found attached to an original Mockingbird typescript by her lawyer, Tonja Carter.
“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,” Lee said. “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”
Go Set a Watchman is scheduled for publication on July 14, 2015. – Jake Nelson
Top photo: Harper Lee circa 1962 soon after To Kill a Mockingbird was published.