With the publishing of GO SET A WATCHMAN and the many articles regarding the controversy over the authorship of GSAW and its prequel, I got more and more interested in this subject. The following includes some of the reasons why people are questioning Harper Lee, and other authors that might have written her novels. Please keep in mind that spoilers may be below, marked with SPOILER ALERT at the beginning.
WHY HARPER LEE MAY NOT HAVE WRITTEN TKAM AND GSAW:
- Suspected of being the true author behind TKAM and GSAW, Truman Capote wrote many award-winning and well-known novels, (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S; MIRIAM; OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS). Truman Capote and Harper Lee were also childhood friends and Lee is know for helping Capote research his acclaimed crime novel, COLD BLOOD. It would have been easy for Lee to get ahold of one of Capote’s manuscripts.
- Unfortunately, Truman Capote has been dead since 1984, so he’s around to prove his authorship.
- It’s nearly impossible to say that Capote plagiarized off of Lee because Capote published numerous novels long before Lee ever came out with TKAM.
- SPOILER ALERT: Within GSAW, Atticus Finch is portrayed as a racist. Yes, he is older, but it’s important that Atticus was nearly 50 years old at the time of TKAM. Many of his convictions were deeply set and an integral part of TKAM. Atticus provides insight and consistency to TKAM, a trait that would be hard to mimic.
- SPOILER ALERT: Jem is already dead in GSAW. Sure, it’s entirely plausible, but there’s speculation (along with the chance in Atticus’s character) that Jem was killed because Lee didn’t know how to continue Jem’s character. At the end of TKAM, Jem still had a lot of reconciliation to do, but the end of TKAM pretty much marked the end of Scout’s reconciliation. It would be easy to continue writing Scout, but not easy to envision how Atticus and Jem (but Jem especially) would grow or act.
- GSAW was discovered years and years after TKAM. With the success of TKAM, it’s a marvel that Lee forgot all about GSAW for so many years.
- Publishers and agents need to make money, lending to the idea that the people who actually got to see GSAW before its release may have turned a blind eye to the idea of plagiarism. This is supported by the already record-breaking sales of GSAW.
- There’s no proof that GSAW was written before TKAM.
- In this article, it’s stated that Lee said that her friendship with Truman Capote ended when she won the Pulitzer Prize for TKAM. The reason for this might be jealousy, but it could also be a dispute about the true origins of the book.
- Much of the evidence that Harper Lee wrote TKAM has been put forward by Harper Lee’s side.
WHY HARPER LEE MAY HAVE WRITTEN TKAM:
- The speculations about the character changes and the publisher decisions are just that: speculations.
- The characters make sense if the story revolved around Scout, the main character. In that sense, making Atticus a villain and killing off Scout’s mentor makes sense.
- People change; their outlooks and ideals can transform over time. Harper Lee may have changed a lot between writing TKAM and GSAW and so portrayed her characters differently.
- TKAM was attributed to Harper Lee from the beginning.
- TKAM was published before Truman Capote’s death. Why didn’t he say anything if TKAM was actually his book? There’s lots of speculation that Capote heavily edited TKAM.
- An algorithm that went through TKAM and GSAW looking for signs of heavy editing, inconsistencies and other influences determined that TKAM and GSAW are Harper Lee’s books.
- Why would Harper Lee publish GSAW now if she’d already gotten away with TKAM?
The argument is up in the air, and much of the decision making is based on speculation on both sides. What do you think of this argument? If there’s any more evidence not mentioned or referenced in this story, please comment below and I may add it to this article! Please don’t fight over this issue on The Silver Words, and in terms of opinion I remain completely neutral.
BIBLIOGRAPHY / FURTHER READING