Harper Lee: Watchman, the Sequel That Took 50 Years

For years, Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird had been her only published work. Yesterday that all changed. Harper Lee announced a sequel to her no-longer one hit wonder, To Kill a Mockingbird called Go Set a Watchman.

In a previous post we explored how popular Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is. When Facebook compiled a popular status update, where people listed their top 10 favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird was number one.

This is the version I remember reading in high school.

So what does this actually mean, for you, the potential reader? Well, a few things.

First, it means you get to see the characters you love and adore again, for better or for worse. Yes, worse is a possibility.

Did you know, for example, that the book The Graduate (yes, the book the movie is based off of), has a sequel? That’s right, author Charles Webb took his classic coming-of-age story and wrote a sequel about 40 years after the original The Graduate came out called Home School.

Home School was not a hit with critics nor readers, who called the book a flat out “failure,” and said that it “is such a bad book on so many levels” (Wikipedia).

But Harper Lee’s book doesn’t need to go the same way, nor should we expect that it will. An author releasing a sequel, let alone a second novel, 50 years after their only book doesn’t mean that it will be bad. On the contrary, I feel that she took her time releasing this sequel because she really wanted to do justice to her first novel and didn’t want to just publish anything. Plus, the original manuscript for Go Set a Watchmen was completed in 1950, but was lost, and obviously has been found years later for editing and release. Lee didn’t rewrite her book nor try to do a different sequel. Instead, she waited for her sequel to appear again.

Go Set a Watchmen is the story of Scout coming home 20 years later where she 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 (The Guardian).

By all accounts, Go Set a Watchmen should be well worth the wait and the read.


  1. Pingback: To Read or Not To Read: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman | The Poetics Project

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