Is Harper Lee competent to OK ‘Mockingbird’ sequel?

By Serge F. Kovaleski, Alexandra Alter and Jennifer Crossley Howard

Happer Lee, HarperCollinsMONROEVILLE, Ala. — The doubts arose almost immediately when HarperCollins announced last month that it would release a rediscovered book by Harper Lee: Did Lee — 88, publicity-shy and famously resistant to producing a follow-up to her masterpiece, “To Kill a Mockingbird” — really want to publish a novel that she wrote and set aside more than a half-century ago?

Despite reassurances from her publisher, lawyer, and literary agent that Lee has enthusiastically endorsed the publication, the controversy over the new book, “Go Set a Watchman,” has divided some residents of her hometown here, as well as longtime friends who live elsewhere. One faction argues that Lee’s mental health is too shaky for her to have knowingly authorized the new book, while the other just as vigorously affirms her competence.

Now the state of Alabama has been drawn into the debate. Responding to at least one complaint of potential elder abuse related to the publication, investigators interviewed Lee last month at the assisted living facility where she resides. They have also interviewed employees at the facility, as well as several friends and acquaintances.

It remains unclear what, if anything, will come out of the investigation. One person informed of the substance of the interviews, who did not want to speak for attribution because the inquiry was ongoing, said Lee appeared capable of understanding questions and provided cogent answers.

That the state has undertaken an inquiry highlights the scrutiny that Lee’s publisher and lawyer are facing. And the spectacle of a very public debate about Lee’s mental condition and true intentions has added an operatic blemish to what should have been a triumphant moment for HarperCollins and Lee’s millions of fans.

Source: The Boston Globe for the New York Times

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,