Harper Lee's lawyer is standing her ground after the New York Times cast doubt on the discovery of Go Set a Watchman, the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird out tomorrow. Though the Times suggested the manuscript was uncovered in the presence of Tonja Carter in 2011, she says she only heard about Lee's second novel at a get-together with Lee's friends and family last summer, she writes at the Wall Street Journal. The suggestion triggered a memory: In 2011, Carter had examined the contents of Lee's safe-deposit box with Sam Pinkus, Lee's then-literary agent, and Justin Caldwell, a Sotheby's appraiser. In a cardboard box inside, Carter remembered seeing the name of an unknown character, Hank, among several hundred pages of original manuscript. She says she assumed the pages were from an early draft.
"Someone mentioned that the first page was not the first page of Mockingbird, but rather seemed to be a later chapter," writes Carter. "I was then asked to retrieve a copy of the Mockingbird book" for comparison. She did so, "then left the meeting and didn't return," she writes. Neither Pinkus nor Caldwell ever mentioned a second book, though Caldwell said it was nice "to see that manuscript." After the get-together last year, Carter returned to the safe and found Go Set a Watchman. She says she read it and sent it to Lee's foreign-markets agent with Lee's blessing. The remaining contents of the safe, which might include "a third book bridging the two," Carter says, will now be examined by experts. As for the original To Kill a Mockingbird manuscript, Carter says she found it last week in an envelope, postmarked Jan. 3, 1961, sent from the original publishers. She says it was never opened. Click for her full column.