Thursday 18 January 2018

'Mockingbird' author Lee to publish sequel novel - after 55 years

Legendary author Harper Lee
Legendary author Harper Lee

Anita Singh

Harper Lee is bringing out a sequel to her first and only novel, 'To Kill A Mockingbird', 55 years on.

In news that has stunned the book world, Lee announced that 'Go Set a Watchman' will be published this summer. It features Scout as an adult woman and, in Lee's words, is "a pretty decent effort".

Lee finished the book before writing 'To Kill A Mockingbird', in the 1950s, but has waited until now to reveal it.

Running to 304 pages, it will be published with an initial print run of two million copies.

'Go Set a Watchman' was the original story of Scout, but it was the flashbacks to her childhood which caught the eye of Lee's editor, who persuaded her to write about a schoolgirl Scout instead. Lee put the first manuscript to one side and believed it lost until recently.

Fans of the original book will be thrilled to learn that Atticus Finch will also appear in the sequel.

It is set 20 years after 'To Kill A Mockingbird' ends. Scout returns to visit her father in Maycomb, Alabama but "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".

In a statement, Lee (88) 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 (which became 'To Kill a Mockingbird') 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 realised it (the original book) 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."

Carter found the manuscript "at a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of 'To Kill A Mockingbird'".

The book will be published in the US by HarperCollins and in the UK by William Heinemann.

'To Kill A Mockingbird' is one of the most beloved novels ever written, with worldwide sales of over 40 million. It was published on July 11 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a 1962 film, which won an Oscar for Gregory Peck.

Jonathan Burnham, Lee's publisher at Harper, said: "This is a remarkable literary event. The existence of 'Go Set a Watchman' was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."(©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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