Discovery of Harper Lee Book Sounds Fishier Now

Lawyer may have had it for years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 6:16 PM CDT
Discovery of Harper Lee Book Sounds Fishier Now
FILE - This March 14, 1963 file photo shows Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To kill a Mockingbird." The head of a group for Alabama writers says the new book by Harper Lee will help other state authors. Alabama Writer’s Forum executive director Jeanie Thompson says the attention...   (AP Photo, File)

Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman will be released on July 14, and the New York Times reports on another development that casts doubt on the supposedly chance discovery of the manuscript last year. It seems to have been found in 2011 and not, as Lee's attorney maintains, in August 2014. According to the Times, a Sotheby's expert named Justin Caldwell discovered the manuscript while assessing the contents of a safety deposit box in the presence of Lee's attorney, Tonja Carter, and her then agent, Samuel Pinkus. Why, then, did Carter announce to the world last year that she had just found Watchman? She says she had left the bank room to run an errand, and that must have been when the big discovery was made.

“If Sam discovered the Go Set a Watchman manuscript at that time, he told neither me nor Miss Alice nor Nelle,” says Carter said in a statement. ("Nelle" is Lee's family name, and Alice is her late sister.) Pinkus says that's not true: “Ms. Carter was present in the safe-deposit room and, along with Mr. Caldwell and I, read manuscript pages,” he says. So why would this make a difference? One theory is that Alice would never have allowed Watchman to be published. She died in 2014, however, and Carter announced her discovery three months later. The big fear among Lee's fans is that the 89-year-old is being manipulated into publishing this book, though a state investigator in Alabama deemed her aware of what's happening with it. (More Harper Lee stories.)

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