Publishers 'flying to London to read Lee manuscript'

Publishers 'flying to London to read Lee manuscript'

Literary agent Andrew Nurnberg is reportedly asking international publishers who want to publish Go Set a Watchman, the recently rediscovered novel by Harper Lee, to fly to London to read the manuscript.

Go Set a Watchman is a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, although it was written by Lee before her bestselling, and up to now, only novel.

Cornerstone’s William Heinemann, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish Go Set a Watchman in the UK this summer, simultaneously with Harper in the US.

Publishers Weekly reported that Lee’s agent Nurnberg is asked foreign publishers to travel to his London office to read the book, which is embargoed until its 14th July release.

He said: "We don't wish to sell this book blind. Not least because there has been a fair amount of nonsense in the press by a few people who seem determined to question the motivation of selling it, and to belittle its literary merits, without having read a single word.”

Nurnberg is offering the book first to Lee's previous publishers, and said that there have been "no shortage of publishers putting in unsolicited blind offers, but these are unlikely to pass muster".

International publishers are reportedly also having to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to read Go Set a Watchman.

Nurnberg told PW that the book has already sold to a number of foreign publishers, and that the timing of foreign language publications will depend on publishers and their desire to release a book in line with the English edition.

Concerns have been raised since the re-emergence of the manuscript about Lee’s health. The writer, who had a stroke in 2007, lives in a nursing home and is said to now been mostly blind and deaf. However Lee released a statement through her lawyer Tonja Carter, who discovered the manuscript, saying she is “alive and kicking and happy as hell” about the new publication.

Sales of To Kill a Mockingbird have surged since the announcement of Go Set a Watchman, with the book reaching the UK Official Top 50 for the first time in five years the week after news of the sequel was released.