Harper Lee has released a single book in her 88 years on this Earth but that book has since become one of American literature’s most beloved masterpieces. Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is such an important piece of literature that British librarians placed the book ahead of the Bible in a list of books that “every adult should read before they die.” I doubt I have to describe this book any further, particularly for American readers, as most schools in the United States require their students to read it, as do many schools outside of the states.
Now that we’re done with the preamble, allow me to discuss the reason for writing this article. As I said before, To Kill a Mockingbird was the first and only book that Harper Lee published but apparently it wasn’t the only book that she wrote. Known as Go Set a Watchman, Harper’s second book is actually her first book, as she wrote it before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, but it has never been published.
The 304-page book follows the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, as she returns to her hometown in Alabama more than two decades after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird. The book highlights the racial tension that was brewing in the South during the 1950’s and will also delve into the complex relationship between father and daughter as Scout visits and aging Atticus Finch.
According to a report from the New York Times, Harper wasn’t even aware that a copy of the book still existed and was actually hesitant about releasing it once it was discovered:
“Ms. Lee said she had thought the draft of “Go Set a Watchman” had been lost or destroyed. Then last fall, Tonja Carter, her friend and lawyer, discovered the manuscript in a secure place where Ms. Lee keeps her archives, attached to an original typed manuscript of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” According to Ms. Lee’s publisher, Ms. Carter didn’t understand what she had stumbled on at first, until she realized that the passages weren’t from Ms. Lee’s first and only novel. Ms. Lee wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of releasing it but was persuaded after a handful of people read it and reassured her it was worth publishing.”
Despite her initial hesitation, Harper eventually shared the novel with a handful of people whom she trusted and their response was unanimously approving. While it’s highly doubtful that the novel will reach anywhere near the level of success or acclaim that To Kill a Mockingbird did, it will certainly prove to be an interesting read, especially to the people who have waited several decades for Harper to release another book, which is scheduled to be released this July.