Harper Lee publishing second novel


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“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.”

When Harper Lee wrote these words more than 50 years ago in To Kill a Mockingbird, she may have taken them to heart; this may explain why Lee never released another novel following the huge success of her first work: It has sold more than 30 million copies and each year continues to sell 1 million more, according to Lee’s publisher.

On July 14, almost 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird became a classic, Lee will release a second novel, Go Set a Watchman, though still without pride. 

“I thought it a pretty decent effort,” Lee told BBC News. “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 was written approximately 60 years ago, before To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee said this was actually her first novel, and it featured flashbacks to Scout’s time as a child in Maycomb and her father’s now-famous involvement with Tom Robinson’s legal problems. Following her editor’s advice, Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird by expanding upon these flashback scenes.

Lee believed Go Set a Watchman had been lost years ago. Friend and lawyer Tonja Carter recently found the manuscript attached to an original copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The new novel features Scout as an adult. She leaves her home in New York to return to Maycomb to visit her father, Atticus. It is set in the 1950s.

Though she has worked on novels since Mockingbird, Lee said she has never been satisfied with them and has abandoned them all before completion — why she only released one novel in her career. If she is satisfied enough to publish Go Set a Watchman, that bodes well for the millions of readers who will devour copies in five months.

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