Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” announced the release of her book “Go Set a Watchman” on July 14 after a 55-year hiatus.
According to a news release from HarperCollins Publishers, Lee wrote “Go Set a Watchman” during the 1950s, before she wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Go Set a Watchman” features older versions of the same characters from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” including Scout and Atticus Finch. When Lee presented the book to her editor, he was so intrigued by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, he persuaded Lee to write a different book from the point of view of Scout as a child.
According to the New York Times, Lee, 88, thought “Go Set a Watchman” had been lost after she began writing “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Tonja Carter, Lee’s lawyer and friend, discovered the manuscript attached to a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in August of last year.
“When I heard about ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ my initial reaction was, ‘yes,’ with three exclamation points,” professor of English Heath Carpenter said. “Ms. Lee writes a masterpiece, and that’s it. I’ve always been curious, where is round two?”
Although the initial reaction of a second Harper Lee book was excitement, there is a cloud of controversy covering the debut of “Go Set a Watchman” expressed by doubtful “To Kill a Mockingbird” readers.
“I think the controversy comes from a lot of mystique of being an author with only one book,” English professor Dr. Charles Bane said. “We kind of like that idea. So for her to have this second book coming out, it will destroy this mystique.”
Junior Ashley Jackson said she wants to give Lee the benefit of the doubt.
“She’s really old, so It’s sad to think she might be manipulated to do this by a circle of money-interested friends,” Jackson said. “At the same time, is anyone really giving Lee the benefit of the doubt?A bad work never taints a name. The classics and masterpieces in literature always stand strong, and so does the writer. Maybe Lee is just ready to release and share with readers something she’s cherished herself.”
No matter the doubts, Lee’s fans are anxiously waiting on the arrival of her new novel.
“‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ book never loses its power or weight,” Carpenter said. “People are attracted to it. You can relate to it on so many different levels. It’s not just about the civil rights movement, it’s human nature.”