Harper Lee, Welcome Back

Recently the public received news about the summer release of a new book by Harper Lee, most famously known for her novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Lee’s new novel titled, “Go Set A Watchman,” is the most anticipated novel of 2015, currently holding a number one spot on Amazon despite its July release date.

“It’s very interesting from an author who, for her entire literary career, has always sworn she would never write another novel and she didn’t. She wrote this before she wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird,” so she’s still true to that,” said Dustin Atkinson, adjunct professor of English.

According to editor Hugh Van Dusen, this novel has been written for quite some time. In fact, Hugh Van Dusen said in an online interview with Vulture that this novel was written before “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but was rejected by her original publisher, J. B. Lippincott.

“The original publisher of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” said to her ‘this isn’t what you want to write. You want to write something about Scout when she was a girl.’ So Nelle [Harper Lee] went back and wrote a new book: “To Kill a Mockingbird” said Hugh van Dusen in an online interview with Vulture.

“Go Set a Watchman’s” will take place after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” despite the fact that it was written beforehand.

“I have a certain idea about what might of happened in Scout’s future, and what this is going to do is it’s going to actually define what happened in Scout’s future. I don’t know how that is going to change the story for me” Yvonne Wilber, manager of collection development, said.

According to a recent press release from Harper Lee’s team, “The original manuscript of the novel was considered to have been lost until fall 2014 when Tonja Carter discovered it in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Lee is known for being a particularly private individual, staying away from all media outlets as much as possible. This is why the public answered to the release of this news with split reactions about the publication of this shelved novel.

“She’s not a recluse at all. She just doesn’t like publicity,” Hugh Van Dusen said to Vulture.

Lee, who is 88-years-old has made no move to publish this novel even though it has been written and left untouched for 55 years.

“There’s a lot of questions and really the only person to answer them is Harper Lee herself,” Atkinson said.

Harper Lee used to have her sister speak for her and defend her publically, but her sister died in the last year. This puts the public’s relationship with Lee in a difficult position because anything readers hear has always been secondhand information.

“She can’t be expected to be forthcoming about her work, and mentally she may not really be in the state to comment on it anymore, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be brought up for the public,” Jim Bond, associate professor of English said.

Lee is relying on her team to edit and publicize this novel. However, in her novel’s press release she is quoted from an entirely different standpoint.

“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,” said Lee in “Go Set A Watchman’s” press release.

“Go Set a Watchman” is going to be published the way it was written back when it was first shelved.

“If it has been edited, nobody’s told me,” Hugh Van Dusen said.

“I think for an author who is in her late 80s that it would be perfectly normal for someone to take on the task of editing the novel, especially given that when she put it on the shelf it might have been left in an unfinished state,” Bond said.

Despite all of the controversy going around, no one can be sure of what to expect from “Go Set a Watchmen” until summer when this much-anticipated novel will be finalized and released to the public.

Jennifer Birch
Staff Writer
Published February 18th, 2015