Harper Lee to publish sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird

Literary world abuzz with news that Lee will publish second novel lost for decades

Harper Lee
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird is to get a sequel 55 years after it was first published. Go Set a Watchman, which features the character Scout Finch from the original novel, will be released on 14 July.

The BBC reports that Lee wrote the novel 60 years ago, but on the advice of her editor set it aside and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. The Pulitzer-winning novel was published in 1960 and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.

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.

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"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."

Harper Collins will publish the novel with an initial print run of one million copies.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Lee believed the manuscript was lost until recently, when she was "surprised and delighted" to learn it had been found.

The manuscript was discovered by Lee's lawyer and friend Tonja Carter "at a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill A Mockingbird", the publisher said.

Jonathan Burnham, Lee's publisher at Harper, said: "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. It is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s."

But questions have been raised in recent years about Lee's health and capacity to make decisions, says The Guardian. Lee is profoundly deaf, mostly blind and lives in an assisted-living facility in Monroeville – the small Alabama town where she spent summers growing up with her friend Truman Capote.

In 2013, Lee filed two lawsuits, both of which were settled out of court. She accused Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her longtime agent, Eugene Winick, of duping her into signing over copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird. She filed another case against the local Monroeville museum, accusing them of exploiting the fame and prestige of her Pulitzer-winning book without offering compensation.

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