No, ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is Not a Sequel to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
Keith Collins and Nikhil Sonnad provide strong evidence that the "sequel" to Harper Lee's classic novel was merely a bad first draft.
Keith Collins and Nikhil Sonnad provide strong evidence that the “sequel” to Harper Lee’s classic novel was merely a bad first draft.
Go Set a Watchman, released worldwide this week, was initially portrayed as a long-lost second novel by Harper Lee. But reports leading up to its publication have made clear that Watchman is more accurately seen as the early first draft of Lee’s classic work, To Kill a Mockingbird, which won the Pulitzer Prize for its depiction of racism in the deep south of the United States during the Great Depression.
As it turns out, many passages can be found in both of the books, almost word-for-word.
Watchman takes place two decades after Mockingbird, featuring many of the same characters but a different narrator and some starkly divergent themes. Most notably, Atticus Finch, the moral hero of Mockingbird, turns out to be an unapologetic racist in Watchman. Lee handed in the manuscript of Watchman in 1957; her editor, Tay Hohoff, described it as ”more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel,” guiding a wholesale revision of the novel into Mockingbird, which was published in 1960. It’s not clear that Lee, now 89 and ailing, ever intended to publish Watchman as a separate book.
All of that was pretty clear months ago but the “long-lost second novel” meme has somehow overtaken the facts, most notably with the Finch controversy. Follow the link to see how much overlap there was, as well as other evidence that Watchman was just a poor draft of Mockingbird.