Culture

Harper Lee Is Publishing A Sequel Of To Kill A Mockingbird And People Don’t Know How To Feel

Can't wait to read 2 Kill 2 Mockingbirds.

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Good news! Your future kids just got something new to study in high school English.

Fifty-five years after the publication of her first and only novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and coolest old lady you’ve ever seen, Harper Lee has announced she will be releasing a new book, what is essentially a sequel to the much-loved classic, later this year.

Set to be published in July via HarperCollins, Go Set a Watchman was in fact written before her first novel in the mid-’50s.

“It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort,” Lee said in a statement this morning. “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.”

Needless to say, this is huge. The long-lost novel was discovered by a friend of the author, and now we’re finally going to get some more insight into the work of this seemingly reclusive literary icon.

In fact, her deliberate absence from the public eye has led many, including the US editor of the BBC, to humiliate themselves today in thinking she’s a man.

But there’s much more than her gender to be sceptical about here.

The release of this book is mounted in extraordinary expectation. To Kill A Mockingbird is a seminal text in the American canon; one which spoke volumes to the character of the nation at a pivotal moment in history. It also brought with it one of the greatest film adaptations ever, directed by Robert Mulligan in 1962, and starring Gregory Peck. That’s a hard act to follow for what is essentially a first draft.

Lee is now 88 years old and is reportedly residing in assisted living both deaf and almost completely blind. Three months ago, her sister Alice passed away; a woman who has been described as her Harper’s “confidant, housemate and gatekeeper”, who protected her from exploitation.

As the manuscript was found in the week proceeding her death, some are expressing concern about the timing of it all. “Lee has a history of signing whatever’s put in front of her,” Gawker reported in July.

Nonetheless, Lee seems pleased with the plans to publish.

“I hadn’t realised it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it,” she said in a statement circulated by her American publisher, Harper Collins. “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.”

Luckily we only have to wait six months to see the results.

Go Set a Watchman will be released in Australia on July 14 via William Heinemann/Penguin Random House. Photo via Wikicommons.