The literary world and Harper Lee fans are abuzz with the news that the author, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her one and only published novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is set to publish a sequel to her classic on July 14, 2015. The 304-page novel Go Set a Watchman is actually Lee’s first book, written before To Kill a Mockingbird and featuring the main character Scout as an adult. Scout lives in New York City and returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father Atticus.
“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman,” Lee says in a statement from HarperCollins, the publishing house that will print 2 million copies of the book. “It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.”
The 88-year-old author now lives in an assisted living facility in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama and, after suffering a stroke in 2007, is described by friends as wheelchair-bound and suffering from severe hearing loss and blindness, according to The Atlantic. Since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, the fiercely private author has been scrutinized about whether she would ever publish another book.
In the statement released by HarperCollins, Lee says of Go Set a Watchman: “I hadn't realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. 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.”
While the news of the sequel is being met by some speculation about whether the release of the early work is the author’s idea or not, fans who have read and re-read To Kill a Mockingbird will get one more chance to step into the world of Scout as she returns to her hometown to revisit the childhood we all know so well.