This morning I woke up to a friend’s Facebook status about a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. He jokingly said it was to be called To Cook and Eat a Mockingbird. I wondered what that was about until this press release below popped up in my inbox.
“Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House, has acquired UK and Commonwealth Rights (exc. Canada) in a newly discovered novel by Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The deal was struck with Andrew Nurnberg of Andrew Nurnberg Associates. The novel will be published under the William Heinemann imprint, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.
The novel, which Lee titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published in 2015. The book will be distributed locally by Penguin Random House South Africa. The South African release date is to be confirmed.
Harper Lee says, `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 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 realized it 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.’
Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
After To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, Harper Lee set aside Go Set a Watchman, and never returned to it. The original manuscript of the novel was considered to have been lost until the autumn of 2014, when Tonja Carter discovered it in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House, says, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important and enduring books on the Penguin Random House lists and it is no surprise that time and again it is voted best loved by both the reading public and by educators. The story of this first book – both parent to To Kill a Mockingbird and rather wonderfully acting as its sequel – is fascinating. The publication of Go Set a Watchman will be a major event and millions of fans around the world will have the chance to reacquaint themselves with Scout, her father Atticus and the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly.’
Susan Sandon, Divisional Managing Director, says, ‘I’m immensely proud that William Heinemann – Harper Lee’s original publishers – are publishing Go Set a Watchman and I know that, like To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s destined to speak to generations of readers. Immersing oneself anew in the rhythms and cadences of Harper Lee’s rich prose and meeting Scout fully grown makes for an irresistible read which also casts new light on one of the most popular classics of modern literature.’”