Go Set a Watchman has been announced as Harper Lee’s second novel, but is it really? The much anticipated sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, is actually the first manuscript that Lee wrote before Mockingbird, which she attempted to get published in the 1950’s. Already dubbed on its Amazon pre-order page as an “instant classic,” the typewritten manuscript was the discovery of Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, who took over the author’s affairs after her older sister (also a lawyer) passed away last year.
Harper Lee is said to be deaf and blind, but still mentally sharp at 88 years old. Still, controversy has surrounded the discovery and publication of Watchman, which is said to be both a prequel and a sequel to Mockingbird, as the story is told from the perspective of a grown up Scout, the main character.
Lee is reported to be very “happy as hell” over the publication of her manuscript, but nobody knows if that sentiment is really coming from the author because all statements are coming from her lawyer. When Mockingbird became an instant success in 1960, Lee vowed to never publish again saying: ‘I wrote one good book and that was enough’. Adding to the confusion, Lee’s editor at Harper Collins has not even read the manuscript yet, and, reportedly, says it will not be edited.
As with any other discovery of a great author or artist’s work, arguments are now being made that the manuscript belongs to the world, so Lee’s objections, if she indeed has any and if they can be voiced, are irrelevant. One thing is for sure- Harper Collins and Lee’s lawyer are going to make a lot of money from what is being called the greatest literary discovery of the 21st century.