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Review rejects claims author Harper Lee was coerced into publishing second book Go Set a Watchman

Review rejects claims author Harper Lee was coerced into publishing second book Go Set a Watchman

Review rejects claims author Harper Lee was coerced into publishing second book Go Set a Watchman

Updated 4 April 2015, 13:00 AEDT

An investigation into whether To Kill a Mockingbird novelist Harper Lee was coerced into publishing a second book reportedly finds the claims are "unfounded".

An Alabama government department has closed an investigation into whether celebrated novelist Harper Lee was coerced or abused into publishing a long-awaited second book.

A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources confirmed the investigation had concluded and a report has been sent to Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter.

He refused to go into any further details on grounds of confidentiality, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the inquiry concluded the allegations were "unfounded".

More than half a century after the runaway success of her first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, HarperCollins announced in February that Lee would publish a new novel, Go Set a Watchman.

The announcement set the literary world alight and delighted Lee's millions of fans, but quickly degenerated into rampant speculation about whether the 88-year-old was of sound mind.

Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman in the mid-1950s but the manuscript was recently rediscovered by her lawyer.

Deaf and suffering from poor eyesight, Lee has lived since 2007 in a nursing home in Monroeville, Alabama.

In February, Lee's lawyer Ms Carter released a statement telling fans that Lee was "happy as hell" about the new book.

Go Set a Watchman is already a number one bestseller at one online bookstore, where the 304-page hardback is available for pre-order ahead of its July 14 release.

To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Price for its tale of racial injustice in the Great Depression-era South.

Published in 1960, it has become standard reading in classrooms and has been translated into more than 40 languages, as well as adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

AFP