Although people likely know her work, people may not know much about Harper Lee: author of the 1960 book about racial prejudice in Alabama during the Great Depression, To Kill A Mockingbird, which has been on nearly every required reading list in classrooms across the U.S. It was also adapted into a multi-award winning 1962 film, with accolades including multiple Academy Award nominations and three wins for actor Gregory Peck (Best Actor), Best Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote), Best Art Direction – Black and White Set Decoration.
Soon after, Lee pulled a “Greta Garbo”– shying away from the public eye (and all that goes with it), going into reclusion and never publishing another novel. Shockingly, that’s about to change. This week, Lee sent out an official statement (through her lawyer Tonja Carter) announcing the details to Go Set a Watchman, a 304-page tome set in Maycomb, Alabama (20 years after the events in Mockingbird) with Scout Finch returning home to visit her father, Atticus. What’s most interesting about Watchman is it was written BEFORE Mockingbird; when her editor became enamored with the character Scout and told her to write a different novel from Scout’s perspective.
Lee’s take on it was “I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.”
And we’re GLAD she did!
When aforementioned lawyer and friend Tonja Carter found the manuscript for Watchman last fall, Lee decided, “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, Harper Lee’s first published novel since 1960, will hit bookstores on July 15th.
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