Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman is a novel by Harper Lee published on July 14, 2015, by HarperCollins in the United States and William Heinemann in the United Kingdom.

Although publicised as a sequel, It is actually the first draft of Lee’s first and (until 2015) only other published novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). The title comes from Isaiah 21:6: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”

It alludes to Jean Louise Finch’s view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (“watchman”) of Maycomb, and has a theme of disillusionment, as she realises her father’s bigotry.

The book’s unexpected discovery, decades after it was written, together with the exceptional renown of the author’s only other book, an American classic, caused its publication to be highly anticipated; Amazon stated that it was their “most pre-ordered book” since the final book of the Harry Potter series in 2007, and stores arranged all-night openings from midnight to cope with expected demand.

The publication also sparked controversy over the circumstances of its publication due to Lee’s health, contradictions to the discovery story, and questions as to whether Lee had the ability and desire to authorise publication.

The novel follows an adult Scout Finch (referred to using her given names “Jean Louise”) who travels from New York to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus Finch, 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird.

According to the publisher, Scout “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.” Go Set a Watchman includes many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird.

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