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14th Jul 2015

Hipster parents may regret naming kid Atticus with release of new Harper Lee novel

Sophie White

Loyal fans of the iconic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird took to Instagram this morning and proudly displayed Harper Lee’s second published work, Go Set a Watchman, beside their flaxseed muffins and chai lattes. Early reviews of the book suggest that they are about to get a big shock. *Spoiler Alert*


Go Set a Watchman was originally written before To Kill a Mockingbird in 1957 and was rejected by two publishers, though one editor suggested reworking parts of that novel and expanding on the childhood of the protagonist, Jean-Louise. Two years later Lee’s efforts culminated in To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel beloved by every generation since. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel became emblematic of the American civil rights movement, Oprah called it America’s national novel, young people became lawyers because of the infallible, morally immutable Atticus Finch, bands named themselves The Boo Radleys and hipster parents have whole broods of Atticus’, Scouts, Dills and Jems.

After the release of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee notoriously retreated from public life and as the years passed no follow up came. Until now.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lawyer Tonja Carter wrote a piece explaining how she had come across the Go Set a Watchman manuscript.

“I said, ‘Nelle (Lee), when I was in the safe-deposit box, I found something’.”

“She said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘It’s a manuscript of a novel called Go Set A Watchman’.”

The piece also indicated that there may be another manuscript that could potentially be released as a third novel that would bridge the other two.

Released worldwide today Go Set a Watchman is set two decades after To Kill a Mockingbird and follows a now 26-year-old Scout (Jean-Louise) as she tries to come to terms with her father and boyfriend’s bigotry. That’s right Atticus is a racist. And Jem’s dead. It is a bleak future that our beloved small-town lawyer and his plucky kids have wound up in, and one I’m not sure I can bear to read.