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Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s New Novel

Updated on April 7, 2015
Mockingbird | Source

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Its official, Harper Lee's new novel will be available for reading public in July. This is the second novel from the author after publishing the first in 1960.

Harper Lee is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The new book is titled Go Set a Watchman.

There are some interesting connections between these books.

The protagonist in To Kill a Mocking and Go Set a Watchman is same. However, in To Kill a Mockingbird she is 9 and in Go Set the watchman she is 20. Interestingly, Lee wrote Watchman before Mockingbird. The events on Watchman is set 20 years after Mockingbird

After publishing To Kill a Mockingbird, for 64 years, Lee has always remained mum about her another novel, however, now she says, she did not actually realize that she had written a novel which was lying discarded on her drawer all these years.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Book cover scanned by Vinaya
Book cover scanned by Vinaya

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee wrote a series of short stories that later became what we know today as To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel is based on the events the author witnessed as a 10-year-old girl in 1936. Since its first publication in 1960, the novel has been translated in about 40 languages and more than 30 million copies sold worldwide.

Harper Lee was awarded Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird in 1961. To Kill a Mockingbird is included in English program in the universities around the world. The novel has been adapted into an award winning movie and critically acclaimed play.

To Kill a Mockingbird is loosely based on author’s father and his unsuccessful attempt to save two African American men convicted of murder. Many critics find autobiographical elements in To Kill a Mockingbird. They find similarities between the characters in the novel and the real people.

To Kill a Mockingbird is often termed Southern Gothic and coming-of-age novel.

4.5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

The dominant theme in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is racism and injustice. It also explores childhood innocence, issues of class, and gender roles in American society. The main characters in the novel are Scout, a six-year-old girl, her brother Jem, their father Atticus Finch, Tim Robinson, a black man, Dill a young boy, and Boo, a recluse in the neighborhood. Mockingbird in the novel is used as a metaphor for innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird is about the loss of innocence of Scout, Jem, Tim Robinson and Boo.

Atticus Finch is a lawyer who believes in egalitarian society and vouches for social and racial justice and tolerance. Scout and Jem are learning to make friends at school and their neighborhood. They visit their father in the courtroom and try to learn the ways of the society. Tim Robinson is a black man accused of raping a white girl. Atticus Finch pleads that Robinson is not guilty. A segment of the society is angry with Atticus Finch because he is defending a black man. They even try to harm him.

To Kill a Mockingbird has been praised for its narrative mode, form, plot, story and style. Scout is the narrator in the novel, everything is explained through the eyes of a six-years old girl. The narrative mode in the novel is moving and told with great humor and tenderness. There is a bit of irony and sarcasm.

Harper Lee with President Bush in White House for  Presidential Medal of Freedom
Harper Lee with President Bush in White House for Presidential Medal of Freedom | Source

Awards and Honors

  • Pulitzer Prize, 1961
  • Alabama Academy of Honor, 2001
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Notre Dame, 2006
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2007


  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Novel, 1960)


  • Love — In Other Words (Vogue, April 15, 1961)
  • Christmas to Me (McCall's, December 1961)
  • When Children Discover America (McCall's August 1965)
  • Romance and High Adventure (Clearings in the Thicket, an anthology, 1985)
  • Open letter to Oprah Winfrey (O: The Oprah Magazine, July 2006)

Harper Lee

Harper Lee (b. 1926, Alabama, United States) was born as Nelle Harper Lee. Like the central character in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s father too, was a lawyer and he had tried to defend African American men.

Harper Lee studied at Oxford and the University of Alabama. Without completing her law degree, she went to live in New York. She received financial aids from friends, which helped her write full time developing her series of short stories into a novel. After publishing To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee began writing her second novel The Long Goodbye, however did not complete it. Lee’s another unfinished book was nonfiction about serial murder. Apart from To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee’s publications include couple of essays in different magazines.

Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on November 5, 2007, which is the highest civilian award in the United States.

Since 1964, Harper Lee has refused to talk further about her and the book. According to Lee's close friend Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Lee never wrote for two reasons: one, she did not want to go through the pressure and publicity she went through with To Kill a Mockingbird; second, she has said what she wanted to say and she will not say it again.

Catherine Keener portrayed Harper Lee in the film Capote (2005), Sandra Bullock in the film Infamous (2006), and Tracey Hoyt in the TV movie Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story (1998).

To Kill a Mockingbird Movie Review

The movie To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted from Harper Lee's novel of the same name. It is about childhood innocence, racism and injustice. When it was released in 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird was not only a commercial success, but also went on winning numerous awards including three Academy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. American Film Institute has honored To Kill a Mockingbird as one of the best 100 films of all time.

Gregory Peck, in his multiple awards winning performance, has portrayed the character of tolerant and just lawyer Atticus Finch. Gregory Peck bagged Best Actor award in Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards for his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird. In her first ever screen role, Mary Badham as a six-year-old Scout was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category in Academy Awards.

To Kill a Mockingbird won Gary Cooper Award in the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2012, in order to mark the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures, To Kill a Mockingbird was restored and released on Blu-ray and DVD.

Screenshot from the film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) with Gregory Peck as Atticus and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson
Screenshot from the film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) with Gregory Peck as Atticus and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson | Source

Academy Award Nominations and the Wins

Best Picture
Alan J. Pakula
Best Director
Robert Mulligan
Best Cinematography Black-and-White
Russell Harlan
Art/Set Direction Black-and-White
Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen, and Oliver Emert
Screenplay Adaption
Horton Foote
Best Actor
Gregory Peck
Best Supporting Actress
Mary Badham
Background Score
Elmer Bernstein

To Kill a Mockingbird received eight nominations and won three Academy Awards.

Cast in To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch: Gregory Peck

Scout (Jean Louise Finch): Mary Badham

Jem (Jeremy Atticus Finch): Phillip Alford

Boo (Arthur Radley): Robert Duvall

Dill (Charles Baker) Harris: John Megna

Tom Robinson: Brock Peters

Stephanie Crawford: Alice Ghostley

Sheriff Heck Tate: Frank Overton

Maudie Atkinson: Rosemary Murphy

Golden Globe Awards

Best Actor
Gregory Peck
Best Original Score
Elmer Bernstein

American Film Institute Honor for To Kill a Mockingbird

Best Film in Courtroom Drama genre
greatest movie hero of the 20th century - Elmer Bernstein
100 Years of Film Scores - Elmer Bernstein
100 greatest movies of all time

Synopsis of To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s wonderful storytelling is brilliantly captured in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. Even though more than 50 years have passed since the movie was released, To Kill the Mockingbird still appeals the modern audience.The Black and White cinematography and the art direction is wonderful.

The movie still It is set in a fictional town Maycomb, in Alabama, during the time of great depression. It covers three years in Maycomb telling a story of Scout and Jem who live with their widowed father.

One day a young boy named Dill comes to live with his aunt in the neighborhood. Dill becomes friend with Scout and Jem. There is a recluse man named Boo living in the neighborhood. The adults are hesitant of Boo, however, the children are fascinated as well as afraid of the man who rarely comes out of his home. The children spend their time going to school, visiting the courtroom, and learning about Boo.

Atticus Finch defends Tim Robinson, a black man charged with raping a white woman. Scout and Jem are taunted for their father’s action, however, they stand with him. They even save Atticus Finch when he is being attacked by a mob. The jury finds Robinson guilty. He is killed by a mob when he tries to escape. Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem are shaken.

Despite winning the case, the plaintiff Bob Ewell’s reputation is ruined. He wants to revenge Finch family. He attacks Jem and Scout when they are returning home from Halloween Party. Boo comes to rescue the children.

Which is more entertaining?

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Gregory Peck  in the Snows of Kilimanjaro
Gregory Peck in the Snows of Kilimanjaro | Source

Gregory Peck Movies

The Valley of Decision (1945)

Spellbound (1945)

Duel in the Sun (1946)

The Yearling (1946)

Yellow Sky (1948)

Twelve O’clock High (1949)

The Gunfighter (1950)

David and Bathsheba (1951)

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)

The Bravados (1958)

Beloved Infidel (1959)

The Omen (1976)

MacArthur (1977)

The Boys from Brazil (1978)

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck portrayed Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. According to American Film Institute Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is the number one movie hero of all time. Peck served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the chair of the American Cancer Society, and cofounded the American Film Institute.

Gregory Peck (1916 – 2003) began his career as an usher at Radio City Music Hall in New York. He made his stage debut in 1942, in a Broadway production The Morning Star and his first screen debut was in 1944, in the Days of Glory. He received his first Academy Award nomination in the same year in The Keys of the Kingdom. Peck was nominated second time in Gentleman's Agreement, in 1947, and won Best Actor Award for his role of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Peck worked with popular Hollywood directors of the time such as Hitchcock, Henry King, Lewis Milestone, William Wellman, King Vidor, William Wyler etc.


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