The real-life town of Maycomb is time-travelling for Harper Lee's new book
July 14th is going to be one thrilling day for Harper Lee fans (so, basically, everyone on planet Earth). First of all, Harper Lee’s highly anticipated Go Set a Watchman will be published, but we’re assuming that all of you already know this. And second of all, the real-life town of Maycomb – which was immortalized in To Kill a Mockingbird – is ready and willing to celebrate with Lee enthusiasts!
When Harper Lee wrote TKAM, she based Scout Finch’s hometown on the actual city of Monroeville, Alabama… but that was many, MANY years ago. So, to compromise, Monroeville has decided to go back in time (60 years, to be exact) because that’s what you do for very important literature, right?
Let’s set the scene: 250 fans of the classic novel will be taking part in a marathon reading of Watchman. Vintage cars and trucks will be parked around the Monroe County Courthouse. Along with other Alabama historians, Wayne Flynt – who is lucky enough to be a close friend of Harper Lee’s – will be telling stories from a traditional rocking chair. (I’m assuming that this is meant to pay homage to Miss Maudie’s chair in TKAM, which makes this scenario even better than it already is.)
The rocking chairs aren’t going to be set up just anywhere, of course. According to Monroeville’s library director, Bunny Nobles, Flynt and his companions will be sitting in front of the building where the La Salle Hotel once stood. Why is this significant, you ask? Well, the beautiful Gregory Peck/Atticus Finch used to stay here when he would come to visit Harper Lee. Let’s just take a moment to imagine the amazing conversations that these two must’ve had…
Also, the literary city will also be reenacting a reunion between the grownup Scout Finch and her father. The memorable meeting will occur in the town square where A.C. Lee (the author’s father, who Atticus was based on) practiced law. In other words, not only will fans be celebrating the new novel, they will also be celebrating the meaningful life of Queen Harper Lee.
And those 250 fans that we mentioned earlier? They will have the opportunity to read the newly published novel in a museum that once doubled as the courtroom where Gregory Peck paced in the Mockingbird film adaptation. Yes, that courtroom. The courtroom that helped Peck win the Academy Award AND Golden Globe for Best Actor.
In the midst of this extraordinary day, guides will be giving tours around Monroeville to point out important places that inspired Lee during her writing. These same places also re-appear in Watchman, so these lucky participants get a special, in-person sneak peek of what is to come.
Now, even though we all won’t have the opportunity to visit Monroeville, we can still picture just how amazing this event will be. And, in turn, we can use this excitement to propel us through our inevitable binge-reading of Watchman.