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Harper Lee to publish sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird


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An unpublished novel by Harper Lee is to finally see the light of day, 60 years after the US author put it aside to write To Kill a Mockingbird.

Go Set a Watchman, which features the character Scout Finch as an adult, will be released on 14 July.

Lee wrote it in the mid-1950s but put it aside on the advice of her editor.

"I thought it a pretty decent effort." said Lee, now 88. "I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."

Set in the fictional southern town of Maycomb during the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman sees Scout return from New York to visit her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch.

According to the publisher's announcement: "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."

Harper Lee in 1963

To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961

Lee's editor persuaded her to rework some of the story's flashback sequences as a novel in their own right - and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told," the author revealed.

The manuscript was discovered last autumn, attached to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I hadn't realised it [the original book] had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it," Lee continued.

"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."

Harper Collins plans an initial print run of two million copies.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in July 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize. Two years later it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

Lee has rarely spoken to the media since the 1960s and is unlikely to do any publicity for her "new" book.

'Extraordinary gift'

In a statement, Harper Collins' Jonathan Burnham called Go Set a Watchman "a remarkable literary event" whose "discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of To Kill a Mockingbird".

He said: "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 by William Heinemann, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Tom Weldon, of parent company Penguin Random House, said its publication would be "a major event".

"The story of this first book - both parent to To Kill a Mockingbird and rather wonderfully acting as its sequel - is fascinating," he continued.

"Millions of fans around the world will have the chance to reacquaint themselves with Scout, her father Atticus and the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly."


Holy fuck. Biggest Literary story of the past 50 years? I'm all over this, my favourite book ever was Mockingbird, with Atticus Finch the Greatest Man Of All Time. Little titbit, the character of Dil was based on Lee's childhood friend Truman Capote.

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Apparently this is a bit fishy. Her sister was her lawyer and power of attorney, because a stroke left Harper basically cenile, deaf and blind. Her sister died two months ago, and suddenly a new book is being published, I read something saying her new lawyer was a bit publicity happy and possibly pushed her into it. 

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