We actually have some concerns about Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ sequel
Yesterday, we opened our laptops and turned on our desktops to wonderful news: Harper Lee, 55 years after publishing To Kill a Mockingbird, is finally releasing the long-dormant sequel into the world. All of us collectively squealed, grateful that this manuscript was magically discovered, that Lee, after all these years of reclusive behavior and a hardcore anti-media attitude, had changed her mind about publishing a book she had vehemently declared a no-go. I was immediately sucked into the happiness that surrounded this electrifying literary news and wrote about it and gushed over Go Set a Watchman‘s importance —I mean, it’s not every day Harper Lee emerges from hiding and decides to publish a book, right?
But the more we’re looking into this news, the more suspicious it sounds. Because how weird is it that an entire manuscript was suddenly “found”? And that yesterday, of all days, Harper Lee decided would be a good time to get the ball rolling with the sequel. I dunno, guys.
Other facts to take into consideration: according to Jezebel, Harper Lee’s sister Alice, who shielded Harper from the media and publishing industry, died three months ago, leaving Harper more vulnerable and exposed to people who, as Jezebel suggests, “might not have her best interests at heart.”
Additionally (and really, really sadly) Harper Lee might not be mentally capable of making huge decisions regarding her literary career. According to The Atlantic, she had a stroke in 2007 which left her “95 percent blind, profoundly deaf. Her short-term memory is completely shot, and poor in general.” Lee’s attorney of only three years, Tonja Carter, says Lee has been very forgetful and has a hard time understanding the contracts she signs. Last July, Gawker reported, “Lee has a history of signing whatever’s put in front of her, apparently sometimes with Carter’s advice.” Sounds pretty shady, and the good people of Twitter agree.
And lastly, Harper Lee always vocalized her disdain for publicity and that she was scared of publishing again. She told her cousin, “When you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go.” She revealed to her friend, “I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money.”
While there is no hard evidence that definitely proves Harper Lee is being taken advantage of, one has to wonder how much real control she has over Go Set a Watchman, and if the idea to publish it after all this time was truly hers.