A SEQUEL to worldwide bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird will be published later this year.
The book, by author Harper Lee, is called Go Set a Watchman and was written before To Kill a Mockingbird.
However, it was rejected by Lee’s publishers, who set her to work on the novel that made her famous.
To Kill a Mockingbird, set around a trial in the racially divided deep south of the US, has sold more than 40 million copies since it was published in 1960.
Despite doubts from the author’s editor about whether it would sell, the novel quickly became a literary sensation. Translated into ten languages within a year of publication, it was praised by critics as being “skilled, unpretentious, and totally ingenious” and “a novel of strong contemporary national significance”.
Its central characters, Scout, her brother Jem and their lawyer father Atticus, were brought to life in a 1962 film starring Gregory Peck.
The new book revolves around the now-adult Scout’s return to her native Alabama from New York to visit her father. Lee, 88, said: “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 realised 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 will be published on 14 July by William Heinemann, who were the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Tom Weldon, chief executive of Penguin Random House, said: “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 Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly.”
In 2014, the author reached an agreement in a legal case against the Monroe County Heritage Museum in her hometown, of Monroeville, Alabama, which was using her name on souvenirs.
The gift shop of the museum, which is located in the former courthouse which inspired the book, had been accused of taking advantage of Lee’s trademarks to sell book-related souvenirs including clothing and drinks coasters.
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