Harper Lee catapulted to literary fame with her single offering, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Mockingbird,” a tale of racial injustice in the Old South, quickly ascended the bestseller list when it was published in 1960, where it spent 88 weeks.
Since then, the novel has sold more than 40 million copies, with reports as recently as last year reflecting sales of over 400,000; speaking not only to the quality, but to the relevance, of this enduring body of work.
Lee, now in her late eighties, retreated from the spotlight after her brilliant success – an unusual move for any “winning” author, no less one honored with a Pulitzer Prize (awarded in 1961).
Never publishing another novel, Ms. Lee lived her life quietly over the last 50 years. With one exception, an intriguing controversy in mid-2014, involving a former reporter from the Chicago Tribune and her book about Ms. Lee and her sister Alice.
The bombshell came in late November 2014, with the unexpected news that there is indeed another novel from Harper Lee, “Go Set a Watchman,” due for release July 14, 2015.
Although written a year prior to “Mockingbird,” “Watchman” presents the perspective from 20 years later. Here, the character Scout, returns as an adult to reminisce about the racial events with her father, Atticus Finch, as opposed to “Mockingbird,” where she lived (and reflected out) these events with him as a child.
Alice Lee, Harper Lee’s sister, was an attorney who oversaw and advised her famous sister’s interests. It was only following Alice’s death at 103 in November that the first book, “Go Set a Watchman,” resurfaced – sending the literary world into an unprecedented state of anticipation and excitement over the unusual release.
To learn more about Harper Lee and her two novels, visit the Libraries!