In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Tonja Carter—Harper Lee’s lawyer and trustee of her estate—wrote about finding the Go Set A Watchman manuscript in 2011. “I would like to tell the full story,” Carter writes, “Fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.”
Carter especially wishes to clear this story up because she seems to feel a piece in The New York Times got it wrong, publishing “a story on July 2 describing these events in ways very different from how I remember them and in ways not reflecting the emails sent to me by Mr. Pinkus [Lee’s literary agent at the time] and Mr. Caldwell [an appraiser from Sotheby’s].”
Carter, Pinkus, and Caldwell opened Lee’s safe-deposit box at a bank in Lee and Carter’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Among the box’s contents were: “an old cardboard box from Lord & Taylor and a heavy, partially opened but tightly wrapped mailing envelope sent from Lippincott, the original publishers of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ to Alice Lee and postmarked Jan. 3, 1961.” Alice Lee is Harper’s late sister, who took care of Harper’s business affairs until she died in November of 2014.
After this detailed account of Watchman‘s discovery, Carter turns the focus back to that Lord & Taylor box. “Was it an earlier draft of Watchman, or of Mockingbird, or even, as early correspondence indicates it might be, a third book bridging the two?” she asks. “I don’t know.”
“Experts, at [Lee’s] direction,” Carter says, will be allowed to “examine and authenticate” the documents in Lee’s safe-deposit box. These experts, presumably, may answer the question Carter posed above. Go Set A Watchman comes out Tuesday, July 14.