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Does Harper Lee Want To Publish Her New Book?

Only days after the announcement of Harper Lee's second novel, some are questioning whether Lee has been tricked into publishing it.

By Ben Levin | February 5, 2015

It was an exciting announcement earlier this week: that author Harper Lee would be publishing her first book in 55 years. Pre-orders have already put it at the top of Amazon's best-seller list.

The new book, "Go Set A Watchman," will be Lee's only published work aside from "To Kill a Mockingbird," and despite the decades-long wait, it was mostly written before the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. (Video via Universal Studios / "To Kill a Mockingbird")

But while fans are overjoyed to finally get to see it, there are rumors Lee never intended for the book to be published. 

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First, some context: For over half a century Harper Lee shunned the spotlight, refused to publish anything, and made rare public appearances mostly to receive awards, like the Presidential Medal of Honor.

In 2007, she suffered a debilitating stroke, and for the past eight years has lived in an assisted-living facility in Pennsylvania. 

During her seclusion and later her illness, Lee relied heavily on her lawyer and sister Alice Lee, who the Alabama Press-Register described as the writer's "Gatekeeper." Alice died just three months ago

So, the fact that Lee's second book is coming out months after her "gatekeeper's" death is kind of a red flag — especially since Alice said in 2011 that Harper"can't see and can't hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.” 

But what does the author herself have to say about this? Well, that's the other red flag. 

In an interview with Vulture, Lee's editor said that neither he nor her publisher, HarperCollins, have spoken directly with the author. All correspondence is being routed through Lee's new lawyer, Tonja Carter. 

It does look pretty suspicious, which is why multiple outlets are speculating whether the lawyer might have published the book for financial gain against her client's wishes. 

There's currently no hard evidence that that's the case. So for now we might take some advice from Atticus Finch: "Delete the adjectives, and you'll have the facts."

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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