A recently discovered novel by Harper Lee, featuring characters from To Kill A Mockingbird, is to be published this summer.
Go Set a Watchman was written by Lee in the mid-1950s, before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, her only published novel so far, and features that book's narrator, Scout, as an adult.
The book is set during the mid-1950s, some 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus and is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
Lee said she was not aware that Go Set a Watchman had survived, and was “surprised and delighted” when it was rediscovered.
Penguin Random House UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to Go Set a Watchman from Andrew Nurnberg of Andrew Nurnberg Associates.
The novel will be published in hardback and as an e-book under Cornerstone's William Heinemann imprint. William Heinemann was the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Lee said: “In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. 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 from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.
“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.”
After To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, Harper Lee set aside Go Set a Watchman, and never returned to it. The original manuscript of the novel was considered to have been lost until the autumn of 2014, when Carter discovered it in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Weldon said: “To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important and enduring books on the Penguin Random House lists and it is no surprise that time and again it is voted best loved by both the reading public and by educators. 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.”
Susan Sandon, divisional m.d. of Cornerstone, said: “I’m immensely proud that William Heinemann – Harper Lee’s original publishers – are publishing Go Set a Watchman and I know that, like To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s destined to speak to generations of readers. Immersing oneself anew in the rhythms and cadences of Harper Lee’s rich prose and meeting Scout fully grown makes for an irresistible read which also casts new light on one of the most popular classics of modern literature.”
Go Set a Watchman will be published on 14th July 2015. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins will publish simultaneously in North America.
In 2010 William Heinemann published a hardback anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird and Arrow Books released a new paperback edition of the work. To Kill a Mockingbird was published as an e-book for the first time in 2014.
To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages and has sold in excess of 40m copies worldwide, said Penguin Random House.
It has recorded UK sales of 1,257,809 copies in the Bookscan era.