November 19, 2017

Harper Lee, Author of Library Mainstay To Kill a Mockingbird, Dies at 89

Harper Lee, author of the bestselling novel To Kill a Mockingbird and its recently published controversial predecessor, Go Set a Watchman, died on February 19 at the age of 89. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic of American literature, widely taught in U.S. classrooms despite its most recent ranking as 21 of the American Library Association’s (ALA) 100 most challenged books in the last decade. In 1998, an LJ poll voted it “Best Novel of the Century.” In 2001, the Chicago Public Library launched its One Book, One Chicago program with a citywide read of Mockingbird, which was borrowed by over 6,500 library patrons, including the circulation of 350 foreign language copies. It remains the most popular title for “One Book, One City” programs, having been chosen by more than 60 cities across the country.

Go Set a Watchman By the Numbers

On February 3 HarperCollins announced that it would be publishing a sequel to Nelle Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird. In the wake of the news, speculation about Go Set a Watchman’s provenance abounded: Is it a sequel to Mockingbird, or a first draft? Did Lee’s lawyer actually discover the manuscript in a safe-deposit box after it was believed lost for decades? Was the timing of its discovery only two and a half months after the death of Lee’s sister Alice, often considered to be her protector, a coincidence?