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Harper Lee to Publish 2nd Novel

55 years after her classic To Kill a Mockingbird, a sequel–sort of…

Harper Lee, Getty Images

Today’s guest blogger is Guideposts digital producer Brett Leveridge.

That old saw “Never say never” came to mind when I read that Harper Lee, the author of the beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, has a new book coming out in July–55 years after Mockingbird was published!

The very private Ms. Lee had never followed up her acclaimed first book, published in 1960, with a second novel, and as it happens, she’s not doing so now. Instead, she’s following it up with a first novel.

Confused? So was I! Allow me to explain.

Harper Lee, Getty ImagesGo Set a Watchman, though set some 20 years after Mockingbird, was actually written before that classic volume.

In the mid-1950s, Lee had completed Watchman, which features Scout Finch as a young woman from Alabama living in New York. The story follows Scout as she returns to visit her father, Atticus, the lawyer who fought racial injustice in Mockingbird.

But as Lee herself put it in a recent announcement through her publisher, “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.”

That book was, of course, To Kill a Mockingbird, and after it was released to great acclaim, Lee never returned to Go Set a Watchman. In fact, that earlier work was considered lost until Lee’s lawyer found a manuscript of it attached to a manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird.

“After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust,” said Lee, “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.”

So the book that gave birth to To Kill a Mockingbird will now serve as its sequel. Who would have ever predicted that?

I think it’s safe to say that, decades after the publication of Mockingbird, millions of readers who were so touched by Ms. Lee’s second novel will be counting the days until the release of her first one.

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