PBS celebrates the arrival of “Go Set a Watchman” with American Masters: Harper Lee

Lori Acken
Author Harper Lee smoking cigarette on porch. HEY BOO, a film by Mary Murphy. A First Run Features release. Photo: Donald Uhrbrock

Harper Lee’s fans were stunned — and then thrilled — by recent news that a rumored early manuscript by the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird scribe was unearthed and being readied for publication. With Go Set a Watchman set for release on July 14 (and in celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird‘s 55th anniversary on July 11), PBS will present an updated edition of Mary McDonagh Murphy’s glorious documentary Harper Lee: Hey Boo, which aired on the network in 2012.

American Masters: Harper Lee will premiere July 10 at 9/8CT (check your local listings to confirm the air time in your area).

According to the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, Watchman takes place 20 years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird and follows the now-grown Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as she comes home to Maycomb to visit her father and “struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society and the small Alabama town that shaped her. Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic.”

Watchman was Lee’s first manuscript, but her editor was so charmed by the Scout character that she told Lee to write about her childhood instead.

Mary_Murphy_Harper_Lee_Hey Boo
Mary Murph). Credit: Chris Carroll

Murphy — author of  Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird, which was written with full cooperation from Lee’s inner circle — received an advance copy of Go Set a Watchman before updating Hey Boo to include a preview of the new novel.

Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and believed to be lost or destroyed,” said Murphy in a PBS press release. “Its remarkable discovery allows readers of Lee’s beloved classic the chance to see Atticus and Scout again. How and why this happened is a mystery we unravel in the new version of the documentary.”

A must-see for Mockingbird fans and fans of the Finches alike, Harper Lee: American Masters offers an intimate look at the notoriously private Lee’s life and the advent of her iconic novel and features illumninating interviews with Lee’s friends and family — her centenarian sister Alice is a particular highlight. Oprah Winfrey, Rosanne Cash, Tom Brokaw,  James Patterson, Wally Lamb, Scott Turow, civil rights leader Andrew Young, and others chime in on Mockingbirds impact on their lives and society as a whole.

American Masters: Harper Lee will premiere July 10 at 9/8CT (check your local listings to confirm the air time in your area).


About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.