Go Set A Watchman beats pre-sales for final Harry Potter book - video

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird follow-up is the biggest book release the publishing world has seen in decades

Click to follow

Harper Lee’s unearthed novel Go Set A Watchman has become Waterstone’s biggest pre-sale ever, beating JK Rowling’s final Harry Potter book in 2007.

Pre-orders of the novel were outselling EL James’ latest Fifty Shades instalment Grey by more than three times over the weekend.

Fans queued up in bookshops across the world on Monday 13 July in anticipation of the novel’s midnight release.

Go Set A Watchman was written in the mid-Fifties as a precursor to To Kill A Mockingbird, but lay unpublished in a safe-deposit box for 60 years until it was discovered by Lee’s lawyer in 2014.

Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

The novel is set 20 years after the events of To Kill A Mockingbird, introducing a sexually liberated Scout taking a train home from New York to Alabama at the age of 26 in the first chapter.

Foyles-Watchman.jpg James Daunt, managing director of Waterstone’s, described Go Set A Watchman as “the most exciting book to be published in the history of my book-selling career.”

“We all knew about Harry Potter, we knew it was going to come out, but this is really something extraordinary. And of course it is a much broader demographic. To Kill A Mockingbird is read by everybody, my 11-year-old daughter loves it and so does my grandmother,” he said.

The release of the novel has been surrounded by controversy as to whether Lee was well enough to give consent for the book to be published.

AN75327077Book fan Julia St.jpg
Book fan Julia Stroud was the first in line to get a copy of Go Set A Watchman in the Alabama hometown of author Harper Lee

It was thought the 88-year-old novelist may have been pressured into publishing the novel after it emerged her late sister Alice had written in 2011 that Lee “can’t hear and will sign anything you put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”

In a statement responding to the concerns, Lee said: “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman.”

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee is published by William Heinemann at £18.99.

Read more: Readers give their first reviews of Go Set A Watchman
Harper Lee may have written third novel, says Lee's lawyer