As the July 14 release date of Go Set A Watchman approaches, documentary film producer Mary McDonagh Murphy released a new photograph of To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee, taken in her hometown of Monroeville, AL at the end of June. The photograph, shot at The Prop & Gavel restaurant on the town square, shows the reclusive author flanked by Murphy, whose film Harper Lee: American Masters has been updated in time for the publication, and Joy Brown, described as Lee’s friend and benefactor. In the picture, Lee is looking at a hot-off-the-presses copy of the novel.
No publishing event in recent memory has aroused more interest — and debate — than the release of Watchman, a novel that was written before Mockingbird, probably as an early draft of the best-selling novel that went on to become one of the most acclaimed films of all time. Watchman features many of the same characters as Mockingbird, but it is set two decades after the events involving lawyer Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in the 1962 Horton Foote-scripted film.
Reports of how the manuscript came to light, as well as concerns abut the state of Lee’s health, have dogged the publication. An investigation by the state of Alabama concluded that Lee, 88, is aware and able to consent to the publication. HarperCollins is planning a first run of 2 million copies.
Murphy filmed Lee and benefactor Brown on June 30. In an American Masters web exclusive, Murphy will report on her meeting with Lee about the new novel this week. Murphy was able to read an advance copy of the new novel before updating her film for the American Masters broadcast on Friday, July 10, 9-10:30 p.m. on the Public Broadcasting Service. Murphy will live tweet (#HarperLeePBS) during the broadcast and Lee fans can ask her questions Saturday, July 11 at 2p.m.ET during a Reddit AMA.