"What we found was extraordinary and surprised even me," Lee's lawyer writes after returning to the author's safe deposit box

By Tierney McAfee
July 13, 2015 02:05 PM
Mary Murphy & Company LLC

Go Set a Watchman may not be the only long-lost novel by Harper Lee that has been missing for decades.

In a new piece for the Wall Street Journal, the author’s lawyer, Tonja Carter – who discovered the unedited manuscript for Watchman in a safe deposit box last year – speaks out for the first time about the controversy surrounding the novel’s publication, and she hints that there may be another unpublished book by Lee.

After describing in detail how she came to find Watchman – Lee’s long-awaited follow-up to her 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird, due out Tuesday – Carter reveals that she returned last week to the safe deposit box to see if there were any “other things hiding in plain sight.”

“What we found was extraordinary and surprised even me,” she writes. “Remember the partially opened mailer from Lippincott that the publisher had sent to Alice Lee in 1961? Well, my colleague very carefully removed its contents, which were about 300 pages of typed manuscript. It was clear to us that what was in the package had not been removed since it was first mailed.”

The contents appeared to be the original manuscript of Mockingbird, and Watchman itself, she writes, was sitting “underneath a stack of a significant number of pages of another typed text.”

“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? I don’t know,” writes Carter.

To be certain, “experts, at Nelle’s direction” will now be asked to “examine and authenticate” all documents in the safe deposit box, Carter says, referring to the author by her birth name.

Lee herself recently dismissed speculation that she might not have wanted Watchman published.

“Of course I did, don’t be silly,” she said at a June 30 lunch in honor of her new novel.

In April, the Alabama Department of Human Resources ended an elder-abuse investigation involving Lee after the author was able to answer questions about the book to investigators’ satisfaction, officials said.

Some fans have already expressed dismay about various aspects of Go Set a Watchman, which Lee actually wrote in the 1950s before Mockingbird and reworked at the request of her editor to focus on Scout’s childhood in Maycomb, Alabama.

Readers were shocked to find in the book’s first chapter, published in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, that Scout’s older brother, Jem, was no longer living.

RELATED VIDEO: Go Set A Watchman Sparks Collective Freakout Among Critics

And early reviews of the novel in USA Today and The New York Times revealed beloved character Atticus Finch to be a racist who once attended a Klan meeting.

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