There Is No New Harper Lee Novel In Her Safe Deposit Box Despite Lawyer Tonja Carter's Hints Otherwise
After the mind-blowing sales success of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman , her To Kill a Mockingbird companion novel, it would have been a shock that to uncover yet another "lost" Lee manuscript in Scout's universe. Which is why when Lee's lawyer and oft-spokesperson Tonja Carter hinted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that there was another, third manuscript "bridging" the other two books, readers were desperate to set the record straight. And now, it's been confirmed: There is no new Harper Lee manuscript in that safe deposit box. Which, after the controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman and its mixed reviews, may be a relief for Lee's legacy.
Rare books expert James S. Jaffe traveled to Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama to authenticate the papers in this secretive safe deposit box. Jaffe found an original typescript of Go Set a Watchman, and both a piece of an original typescript and an edited typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird. While the discovery found interesting things about Lee's original writing process — remember that classic opening line "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow"? It's not in the original — it did not uncover any third new manuscript.
Carter's account of discovering the Go Set a Watchman manuscript in that safe deposit box has altered over time, only intensifying the already prominent controversy. There was evidence that the manuscript had been found years before Carter announced she "uncovered" it. The discrepancy only escalated the fears of a group of Lee's friends in Monroeville who believed Carter was taking advantage of the elderly author. A formal investigation uncovered no evidence of elder abuse, and Lee herself has briefly spoken out to dispel the rumors. However, Carter's behavior of hinting at this nonexistent new To Kill a Mockingbird manuscript will likely to nothing to subside this hullabaloo.