According to the New York Times, Tonja Carter, Harper Lee’s lawyer and primary liaison, may have discovered the manuscript for Lee’s forthcoming novel Go Set a Watchman as early as 2011. Carter and Lee’s publisher, HarperCollins, maintain that she found the text in August of 2014; now a source affiliated with Sotheby’s appraiser Justin Caldwell contends that Caldwell, Lee’s then-agent Samuel Pinkus, and Carter in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama nearly four years ago.
As the Times notes, it’s not clear why Carter would have withheld the manuscript for so long. But Watchman has been plagued since its announcement by speculation over whether Lee, whose hearing and vision are significantly impaired, fully consented its release. The announcement’s proximity to Lee’s older sister Alice’s death in November 2014 has also attracted suspicion, since Alice served as Lee’s primary advocate prior to Carter.
HarperCollins is standing by Carter’s version of events. Go Set a Watchman is slated for release on July 14th.