Speed Reads


Harper Lee's lawyer thinks she might have written a third book

More than half a century after the release of To Kill a Mockingbird, HarperCollins announced the controversial release of its sort-of sequel, Go Set a Watchman. Questions abounded about whether author Harper Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter, had coerced the elderly writer into releasing a second book. Lee is reportedly mostly deaf and blind, and it's been unclear exactly how her manuscript, written before Mockingbird, was discovered.

Carter attempted to set the record straight by authoring an article in The Wall Street Journal, in response to a New York Times report she takes issue with. Carter walks through her version of events, in which she, in looking through Lee's safe deposit box to evaluate her assets in 2011, came across a manuscript she assumed was an early draft of Mockingbird. But she had noticed mention of a character named Hank, who doesn't exist in the classic. It wasn't until 2014, she says, that she truly discovered Watchman and got Lee's permission to read it.

Watchman will be released Tuesday, but there's still a mystery to be solved in Lee's safe deposit box. Carter wrote of pages that she and others have yet to definitively identify:

Was it an earlier draft of Watchman or of Mockingbird or even, as early correspondence indicates it might be, a third book bridging the two? I don't know. But this much I do know: In the coming months, experts, at Nelle's direction, will be invited to examine and authenticate all the documents in the safe-deposit box. Any uncertainty about the Mockingbird manuscript removed from the mailing envelope and the mysterious pages of text in the Lord & Taylor box will be addressed. As we celebrate the publication of Go Set a Watchman, history demands no less from us. [The Wall Street Journal]

Read Carter's full account here.