Friday, February 06, 2015

Did Harper Lee Agree to Publish New Book: That Is the Question Skeptics Are Asking Today

News of the "new" Harper Lee novel scheduled for July 2015  publication has caused a not-surprising uproar in the publishing industry, and has, to an equal degree, ignited the imaginations of the novel's future readers.  I use the words "not surprising" because it is only natural for the skeptics out there to cry foul in the case of an author such as Lee who has been so adamant for her entire adult life that she will be publishing nothing else - ever.  Now, skeptics say, such a dramatic shift in her thinking is simply unbelievable.  Some go so far as to wonder if advantage is being taken of the author to a degree that it should be characterized as a form of elder abuse.

It is commonly believed that Lee's health, following the stroke that left her deaf and almost blind, has reached the stage at which she is not capable of making financial or "legacy" decisions for herself.  Skeptics say that those decisions appear to be in the hands of people who themselves stand to gain financially from publication of a second book - the book's publisher and the lawyer in charge of Lee's affairs.  Those same skeptics imply that neither of these parties is much concerned with Lee's final literary reputation when there are big bucks to be harvested from the new book.

At this point, there is no reason to doubt that the book will be published on schedule or that it will sell in huge numbers to libraries and to the public.  Readers all over the world are already talking about the book, and it promises to be the major publishing event of year, if not the decade.  

Below, are links to several articles about the book announcement and the ethical concerns surrounding its publication (additional article links are included inside these articles):

"Uncollected Thoughts on the New Harper Lee Novel" - by Jeff at Book Riot

"Harper Lee is excited about new book says publisher after skeptics raise doubts" - by Alison Flood in The Guardian

"Harper Lee and the vexed question of who owns an author's legacy"  - by Joanna Skutts in The Guardian

"Harper Lee's 'lost' novel was intended to complete a trilogy, says agent" - by Alison Flood in The Guardian


  1. Once the excitement settled and details began coming out I have to admit, it does seem a bit questionable. I hope she did agree to publish the book but we might never really know for certain.

    1. On the other hand, as one of the articles I linked to said, just imagine how much great literature the world would never have known if the wishes of certain authors (those who wanted their unpublished work destroyed at their deaths, for example) had been followed by their survivors. Add in those who were virtually unknown at the time of their deaths...and, well, just imagine what would have been lost.

  2. When the news first broke, I thought it smelled a little funny.

    1. I got so caught up in the euphoria of the announcement, Susan, that the truth did not even begin to creep in until a full 24 hours later.