Go Set a Watchman is a novel by Harper Lee published on July 14, 2015, by HarperCollins in the United States and William Heinemann in the United Kingdom. It was written before Lee’s first and only other published novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). The title comes from Isaiah 21:6: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” It alludes to Scout’s view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (“watchman”) of Maycomb, and has a theme of disillusionment, as she realises her father’s bigotry.
The book’s unexpected discovery, decades after it was written, together with the exceptional renown of the author’s only other book, an American classic, caused its publication to be highly anticipated; Amazon stated that it was their ‘most pre-ordered book’ since the final book of the Harry Potter series in 2007, and stores arranged all-night openings from midnight to cope with expected demand.
The manuscript for the novel was originally thought to be lost. According to The New York Times, the typed manuscript of Go Set a Watchman was first found during an appraisal of Harper Lee’s assets in 2011 in a safe deposit box in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville. Later, Harper Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, revealed that she had first assumed the manuscript to be an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. However, upon learning in the summer of 2014 of the existence of a second novel at a family gathering, she then re-examined Harper Lee’s safe-deposit box and found the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman. After contacting Harper Lee and reading the manuscript, she passed it on to Harper Lee’s agent, Andrew Nurnberg.