Harper Lee to Publish Her Second Book This Summer

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

By Elaine Magliaro

Hillel Italie of the Associated Press reported today that Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish her second book later this year. Her publisher announced today that Go Set a Watchman, a novel Lee “completed in the 1950s and put aside, will be released July 14.” The manuscript was “rediscovered” last fall. Hillel said that the book “is essentially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, although it was finished earlier.”


The BBC said that Go Set A Watchman features Scout, the main character from the To Kill a Mocking, as an adult.


Lee wrote it in the mid-1950s but put it aside on the advice of her editor.
“I thought it a pretty decent effort.” said Lee, now 88. “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

Lee’s second novel is set in the fictional southern town of Maycomb during the mid-1950s. It “sees Scout return from New York to visit her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch.”

According to the publisher’s announcement: “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.”

The BBC reported that “Lee’s editor persuaded her to rework some of the story’s flashback sequences as a novel in their own right – and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird.”


Read more about Harper Lee’s second book at the following links:

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee To Publish Second Novel (TPM)

Harper Lee to publish Mockingbird ‘sequel’ (BBC)

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18 Responses to Harper Lee to Publish Her Second Book This Summer

  1. rafflaw says:

    It took her long enough! I look forward to reading it.

  2. Elaine M. says:


    She wrote the book over fifty years ago!

  3. buckaroo says:

    There is something about rural settings that are so peaceful. After spending all my adult years in the Northeast, I treasure those few years I spent enjoying the green, green grass of the Southeast.

  4. Bob Stone says:

    “Lee’s editor persuaded her to rework some of the story’s flashback sequences as a novel in their own right – and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    Seeing she wrote it in the mid 1950’s and it was the original source material from which Mockingbird was drawn, would that make it more of a prequel or the simply the rest of the original story?

  5. swarthmoremom says:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/mlk-mother-was-assassinated-forgotten-women-black-history-month “On June 30th, 1973, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated…just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one.”

  6. Elaine M. says:

    Harper Lee’s Editor on the New Book and What People Get Wrong About Her

    Why is this book finally showing up now, after all these years?

    The version I was told was that the book was in either a safe deposit box or a bank vault, and it was wrapped in a manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird and nobody noticed it for all these years. I don’t know this for a fact, but one must imagine that Harper Lee — we call her Nelle—just never told anybody about the book and then forgot it existed. Her lawyer, Tonja Carter, who is also Nelle’s very close friend, was apparently looking through this safety deposit box and found [Go Set a Watchman]. I guess she then went to her friend said what it is this? Nelle said, and this is all public knowledge, that her editor at the time at Lippincott, the original publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird, said to her this isn’t what you want to write; you want to write something about Scout when she was a girl. So Nelle went back and wrote a new book: To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Get Set a Watchman has been described as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. It sounds like that’s not accurate, right?

    It’s actually more of a prequel. She wrote it before To Kill a Mockingbird, but the new book takes place after the events of the book that was published.

    Harper is a famously private person. Does she have any ambivalence about the fact that the publication of the book is going to result in a lot of new publicity?

    I don’t think so. In our press release she says, “After much thought and hesitation I shared [Go Set a Watchman] with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

    Has the book been edited? Or is what will eventually be on bookshelves untouched from what was in the safety deposit box?

    If it has been edited, nobody’s told me. It’s the novel she wrote and showed to her editor at Lippincott, who didn’t think it was the book Nelle should be writing. So Nelle wrote another book. I don’t know this for a fact, but I doubt very much that anyone at Harper has edited it. My understanding is that it will be exactly what she wrote in the mid-1950s.

  7. blouise says:


    If memory serves, I think Mrs. King was killed in 1974. I remember this because her death took place shortly before Nixon resigned. It got lost in the news cycles surrounding Watergate and was, in my opinion, the greater tragedy.

  8. Bob Stone says:


    Hometown Friends Believe Harper Lee ‘Manipulated’ To Release Sequel

    MONROEVILLE, Ala. (CBS Atlanta/AP) — Hometown friends and fans of “To Kill A Mockingbird” author Harper Lee are struggling to reconcile a publisher’s sensational announcement — that her decades-old manuscript for a sequel had been rediscovered and will be released — with the image of the elderly writer at her sister’s recent funeral.

    Grieving, ill and seated in a wheelchair, Lee talked loudly to herself at awkward times during the service for her beloved older sister and attorney, Alice, according to two family friends who attended the November service. Lee mumbled in a manner that shocked some in attendance, said one of the friends.

    Both spoke on condition that they not be identified — one for fear of upsetting those handling the author’s affairs, the other not wanting to upset the family.


  9. Bob Stone says:

    Hometown friends say Harper Lee was manipulated into publishing second book

    Multiple residents of Monroeville who have known Harper Lee for years said Wednesday that they believe the 88-year-old author does not possess sufficient mental faculties to make informed decisions about her literary career.

    Suspicion has emerged about the timing of publisher HarperCollins’ announcement Tuesday that her second novel, “Go Set a Watchman” is slated to be released this summer.

    Four people who knew Lee to varying degrees and live in or just outside the town where Lee has lived most of her life and on which she based Maycomb — the fictional setting of her seminal 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” — told AL.com Wednesday they believe Lee’s wishes for her career are not being respected.

    Monroeville lawyer Tonja Carter has long represented Lee and has power of attorney over her affairs. But area residents who know the writer say that Carter has in recent years taken steps to keep her from seeing her friends and family, and become increasingly litigious on her behalf in a way that they do not believe Lee would have supported when she was younger and more alert.

    Janet Sawyer, owner of the Courthouse Café in Monroeville’s compact town square, said she believes that Carter has taken even greater control over her life in the short time since her protective sister, Alice Lee, died in November at the age of 103.

    Sawyer believes that the decision to publish “Go Set a Watchman,” described as a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” later this year was made by Carter alone. Carter did not respond to repeated telephone and email requests for comment Wednesday.
    I don’t think she agreed to do it. I think it’s her attorney being greedy.


  10. Elaine M. says:


    Thanks for the links!

  11. Bob Stone says:


    This article from last July seems to forecast what was to happen:

    The Decline of Harper Lee


    By the time of Mockingbird’s golden anniversary, Nelle’s agent was denying in court that he represented her. The courthouse gift shop, “The Bird’s Nest,” was selling To Kill a Mockingbird onesies and car decals. A former next-door neighbor, Marja Mills, was working on a memoir called The Mockingbird Next Door — which came out this week, lifting the veil of Nelle’s privacy amid a confounding volley of statements between lawyers, sisters, and friends over whether and when she approved of the project. It was left to Alice’s successor in the family firm, Tonja Carter, to sort things out. Carter restricted Lee’s visitors and instituted lawsuits against not just the literary agent but also the courthouse museum. She nearly sued Marja Mills, too, and released a letter last week reaffirming Nelle’s objections — objections that her own sister, Alice, had claimed Carter had ginned up on her behalf. “It’s a terrible thing to happen toward the end of a person’s life,” says Thomas Lane Butts, a preacher who was among Lee’s best friends but hasn’t seen her in a year. Whatever Nelle’s intentions, Carter has upended the town’s delicate status quo, making as many enemies as headlines. Nelle never did like making headlines, even for the right reasons, but she did once love Monroeville.


  12. Elaine M. says:


    Here’s an excerpt from a BBC article that was posted today. Draw your own conclusion.

    Harper Lee dismisses concerns she was ‘pressured’ into book release

    The new book, entitled Go Set A Watchman, is her first since 1960’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which sold more than 40m copies around the world.

    But some have suggested the reclusive 88-year-old is being manipulated into releasing the decades-old manuscript.

    Lee responded in a statement, saying: “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman.”…

    But some were sceptical about the timing of the announcement, which came months after the death of Lee’s sister, Alice, a lawyer who had shielded her younger sibling from the outside world.

    Alice, who died last November aged 103, wrote in 2011: “Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”

    But a spokesman for Penguin Random House said: “Harper Lee still enjoys reading and uses a magnifying machine from the New York Institute for the Blind to read books, newspapers and documents.”

    Harper, who resides in an assisted living facility in Alabama, also suffered a stroke in 2007.

    Actress Mia Farrow was among the first to raise concerns, ‏tweeting: “Is someone taking advantage of our national treasure, 88-year-old Harper Lee?”

    Writer Madeleine Davies also questioned whether the book was “willingly given”, while novelist Tracy Chevalier told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she was “just a little concerned that Harper Lee may have been pressured into this”.

  13. Bob Stone says:


    This article from July of 2014 sheds further light on the “shady” dealings of Tonja Carter.

    How Unauthorized Is the New Book About Harper Lee?


    Another 2011 letter from Alice, which Mills provided with her own statement this week, seems to provide some clue as to what is actually going on. In it, Alice explains the precise circumstances under which Harper Lee originally denounced Mills’ book, and they are rather shady-sounding:

    Imagine my shock when I began to read and get clear about the statement sent from BBL & Carter’s office. I had made no statement and could not [see] how that would get started. When I questioned Tonja I learned that without my knowledge she had typed out the statement, carried it to The Meadows and had Nelle Harper sign it. She brought it back to the office and emailed it to Mary Murphy and Hugh Van Dusen. Poor Nelle Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by any one in whom she has confidence. Now she has no memory of the incident.

    I was talking to Tonja about the matter this morning, and she said to me: “How are we going to get this corrected?” I replied: “I had no idea and it was her problem not mine, she created it.” I don’t know what she has done. Sam advised me to sign nothing in connection with the incident, that he has been put in an uncomfortable position. I will follow his advice:

    I am humiliated, embarrassed and upset about the suggestion of lack of integrity at my office.

    I am waiting for the other shoe to fall…


  14. Bob Stone says:


    The BBC never spoke with Lee. For all we know that statement was probably penned by Carter.

  15. Bob Stone says:

    I wonder if the Alabama State Bar will end up investigating Carter.

  16. Elaine M. says:


    “The BBC never spoke with Lee. For all we know that statement was probably penned by Carter.”

    I agree.

    I just found this article at Slate:

    Don’t Publish Harper Lee’s New Novel, HarperCollins
    By Katy Waldman

    So now what, HarperCollins? You surely believed that Harper Lee fans would be overjoyed when you announced this week you would publish the reclusive writer’s long-forgotten first novel, Go Set a Watchman, in July 2015. And some were, surely! But others were worried: Worried about whether Lee really wanted to release this book. Worried about a lawyer who, some neighbors think, is not treating Lee’s work the way she ought to. Worried about an interview with Lee’s editor Hugh Van Dusen, who appeared not to know where the book had come from or whether it had been, or would be, edited.

    In response to these concerns, HarperCollins, you issued a second press release: “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions of [sic] Watchman,” Lee is said to have said. This second press release feels no more reassuring than the first—neither in the fact that, like the first, it conveyed Lee’s words via her lawyer, Tonja Carter, nor that those words were grammatically incorrect. At this point, the circumstances around the release of this novel are so sketchy, the rollout so tinny with false coincidence, that what HarperCollins needs to do is clear: Withdraw Watchman. Don’t publish the book at all.

    “Increasingly blind and deaf,” according to many, Lee suffered a stroke in 2007 that forced her to move to an assisted living facility. Several months later, she sued her agent for stealing royalties from To Kill a Mockingbird, and, in 2011, declared that the biographer Marja Mills had penned an “unauthorized” book about her. (Mills insists she had Lee’s blessing and cooperation.) Lee’s protective older sister Alice died last year at the age of 103. And now, 60 years after stashing it in a box and stowing it away, the notoriously shy author decides to send an apparently unedited novel into the world?

  17. Elaine M. says:


    This just in…

    Harper Lee Lawyer Offers More Details on Discovery of New Book
    FEB. 8, 2015

    MONROEVILLE, Ala. — One morning late last summer, Tonja B. Carter was doing some legal work for her prized client, Harper Lee, when she found herself thumbing through an old manuscript of what she assumed was “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The characters were familiar, as they would be to millions of readers — the crusading lawyer, Atticus Finch, and his feisty daughter, Scout. But the passages were different. Atticus was much older. Scout was grown up. The story unfolded in Alabama during the racial turmoil of the 1950s, not the Depression of the 1930s.

    Confused, Ms. Carter scanned the text, trying to figure out what she was holding. It was a novel titled “Go Set a Watchman.” It may be one of the most monumental discoveries in contemporary American literature.

    Continue reading the main story

    In Statement, Harper Lee Backs New Novel FEB. 5, 2015
    The author Harper Lee in 2006 with children dressed as characters from her novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.” A second novel with many of the same characters will be published this summer, following the discovery of a long-lost manuscript.Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Is to Publish a Second NovelFEB. 3, 2015
    “I was so stunned. At the time I didn’t know if it was finished,” Ms. Carter recalled in an interview on Saturday, her first extensive comments about the discovery. She went to see Ms. Lee and asked her if the novel was complete. “She said, ‘Complete? I guess so. It was the parent of “Mockingbird.”

    The recovered manuscript has ignited fierce debate — much of it speculative — about why Ms. Lee waited so long to publish again, whether the book will stand up to her beloved first novel, and whether the author, who has long shied away from public attention, might have been pressured or manipulated into publishing it.

    And as word of the new book spread in her hometown, the fog that long shrouded the enigmatic, publicity-shy author — known to most as Nelle — has only deepened.

    Some close friends were shocked to hear of a second novel from Ms. Lee, who was often emphatic that she would never publish another book. But others in her inner circle long knew of its existence. At least one family member remembered reading portions of the manuscript for “Go Set a Watchman” in the mid-1950s. “It definitely was her writing, and it was never lost,” Hank Conner, Ms. Lee’s oldest nephew, said in an interview. “It obviously has been in the possession of the family.”…


    Others close to Ms. Lee, like two friends who visited her on Saturday at the Meadows, attest to her excitement over the release of the novel.

    Cynthia McMillan, a resident assistant at the Meadows who has taken care of Ms. Lee for several years, said in an interview that Ms. Lee was alert, understood what was happening with the newly found manuscript and seemed invigorated by the prospect of publishing again. “She seems excited about it, and it has given her something to focus on since her sister died,” Ms. McMillan said, describing Ms. Lee as “sharp as a tack.”

  18. Bob Stone says:


    Because Alice Lee wrote of her own sister in 2011:

    “Poor Nelle Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by any one in whom she has confidence. Now she has no memory of the incident.”

    I sincerely think that the Alabama State Bar should institute proceedings to make sure that Carter is actually representing the wishes of Harper Lee and not committing elder abuse via the power of attorney.

    I truly sense a greedy attorney screwing around with an iconic legacy.

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