Harper Lee To Release A "To Kill A Mockingbird" Sequel

The reclusive author only published one novel, until now.

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Publishing company Harper announced Tuesday that Lee agreed to release her second novel, essentially a sequel to her acclaimed first book.

It will be her first new work in more than 50 years.

The novel, titled Go Set a Watchman, features many of the same characters from To Kill a Mockingbird about 20 years after the first book's events. The main character of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, is an adult woman in the new novel.

Lee, 88, said in a statement to the AP that she actually finished the new novel before her first, but shelved it to work on To Kill a Mockingbird.

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 (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) 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 (the original book) 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.

The new novel is set in the same Alabama town as To Kill a Mockingbird during the 1950s.

"Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus," the publisher said in an announcement to the AP. "She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood."

Harper said the book would be published as written with no revisions. It will also be released as an e-book.

"This is a remarkable literary event," Harper publisher Jonathan Burnham said in a statement to the AP. "The existence of 'Go Set a Watchman' was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Reading in many ways like a sequel to Harper Lee's classic novel, it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s."

Lee still lives in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, and has famously shunned the public eye since publishing her novel in 1960.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contributions to literature.

In 2013, Lee sued her literary agent for allegedly stealing the royalties from her novel. She claimed in the lawsuit that Samuel Pinkus had taken advantage of her physical disadvantages after she suffered a stroke.

The parties settled the lawsuit later that year.

This is a developing story. Please check back here and at BuzzFeed News on Twitter for updates.

Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Stephanie McNeal at stephanie.mcneal@buzzfeed.com.

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