Harper Lee's lawyer and estate trustee, Tonja Carter, described how she found the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
I decided then to take a closer look at those pages. I went to the safe-deposit box and pulled out the Lord & Taylor box. I began to thumb through its contents when I came across a title page that said: Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee, York Avenue, New York, New York. I read enough of the first page to know this was not To Kill a Mockingbird. It opens with Scout, all grown up, returning to Alabama by train from her home in New York City. I thought the Watchman manuscript could have been the sequel to Mockingbird. And something else was in the Lord & Taylor box. The manuscript for Watchman was underneath a stack of a significant number of pages of another typed text.
In addition to Go Set a Watchman, Carter noted that there seemed to be another manuscript in Lee's safe-deposit box, possibly that of a third novel:
What of the other pages that have for decades sat in the Lord & Taylor box on top of Watchman? Was it an earlier draft of Watchman, or of Mockingbird, or even, as early correspondence indicates it might be, a third book bridging the two? I don't know. But this much I do know: In the coming months, experts, at [Lee's] direction, will be invited to examine and authenticate all the documents in the safe-deposit box. Any uncertainty about the Mockingbird manuscript removed from the mailing envelope and the mysterious pages of text in the Lord & Taylor box will be addressed.
The relevation comes in the midst of speculation and controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman, with some questioning the ethics of the book's publication:
But someone did plan for this, although it might not have been Harper Lee. Ever since Watchman was announced, rumors have persisted that a younger, more mindful Lee — the one who swore not to publish anything again—wouldn't abide any of this. ... How aware is Lee, really, of this new book? Does she, as her publishers insist, approve of its publication?
In March, the state of Alabama even launched an investigation into the matter, but found no evidence of elder abuse.
The Alabama Securities Commission and the Department of Human Resources have closed the investigation, saying there is no evidence of financial fraud.
Moreover, the New York Times questioned whether Lee's original editor, Tay Hohoff, would have wanted Go Set a Watchman to be published.
Mr. Burlingame said that in his years at Lippincott, there was never any discussion of publishing Go Set a Watchman. We can only speculate about how Ms. Hohoff would have reacted to the book's release. Would she have considered it a valuable literary artifact with the potential to deepen our understanding of Ms. Lee? Or would she have tried to talk her author out of it, arguing that Watchman could forever change how people read Mockingbird?
"Will Atticus Finch still be the heroic and inspiring character we've so admired all of these years?" Mr. Burlingame asked. "Perhaps it was these concerns that, over the decades, caused Nelle and Tay, while she was alive, to refuse to have it published?"
Yes, absolutely.No, I plan to stop at Go Set a Watchman.No, and I'm not going to read Go Set a Watchman either.Only if it’s proven that Harper Lee was not exploited.No, I’m not really a fan of Harper Lee.
vote votesYes, absolutely.
vote votesNo, I plan to stop at Go Set a Watchman.
vote votesNo, and I'm not going to read Go Set a Watchman either.
vote votesOnly if it’s proven that Harper Lee was not exploited.
vote votesNo, I’m not really a fan of Harper Lee.