This July, Harper Lee will publish her ‘first’ novel, Go Set a Watchman, the book that inspired To Kill a Mockingbird.
Famed author Harper Lee will this July publish her first novel – the original book that inspired the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee explains that Go Set a Watchman was the novel she first presented to her publisher in the mid-1950s. It centred, like Mockingbird, on the protagonist Scout Finch. However, in Watchman, Scout is an adult looking back on her childhood, and these flashbacks so enamoured her editor that Lee was encouraged to craft a novel out of them. So, Go Set a Watchman was put aside and To Kill a Mockingbird grew in its place. “I was a first-time writer,” says Lee in a statement, “so I did as I was told.” She continues: “I hadn’t realized it 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.” The story focusses on grown-up Scout’s return to her childhood home in the ficitional town of Maycomb, Alabama. She has spent time in New York, and must reconcile once more the prejudices of her hometown with her own personal and political beliefs. Through this, she delves into the character of her father, Atticus, and his approach to society in the aftermath of the events of Mockingbird. The novel will be published by To Kill a Mockingbird‘s original imprint, William Heinemann, now a subsidiary of the Penguin Random House giant. There will be two million copies in the inital print run, due for release in July 2015. Tom Weldon, Penguin Random House CEO, is understandably pleased with the find. “The story of this first book – both parent to To Kill a Mockingbird and rather wonderfully acting as its sequel – is fascinating. The publication of Go Set a Watchman will be a major event and millions of fans around the world will have the chance to reacquaint themselves with Scout, her father Atticus and the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly.”