Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman is Harper Lee's first book in 55 yearsGetty

Go Set A Watchman, the first novel released by author Harper Lee in more than 50 years, contains entire paragraphs lifted from To Kill A Mockingbird.

The book was originally described as a sequel to her debut, containing many of the same characters and set in the same place as the classic 1960 novel.

However, in the run up to the release of one of the most anticipated novels in recent years, there were suggestions that the 89-year-old Lee never intended Go Set A Watchman to be published and that it may actually have been a first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird.

In an interview with IBT US, Lee's biographer, Charles J Shields, said he believed the book is only now getting released as the author's sister – who would normally have blocked such a move – died in November 2014, three months before confirmation of Go Set A Watchman's publication.

"I have a theory why the book is being published this year," he said "It's because her sister is dead. Alice [who died in November, 2014 at the age of 103] was in control of Harper's life, of what she signed. But now the lid's off, and a book written half a century ago is going to be published."

harper lee
Author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White HouseGetty

Following its release, Quartz has now outlined several similarities between the two books, highlighting the argument as to whether Lee intended for it to be published as a standalone novel.

In some cases, entire paragraphs are repeated virtually verbatim.

Below is an extract from chapter four of Go Set A Watchman, followed by an almost identical passage from To Kill A Mockingbird.

Go Set A Watchman, chapter 4:

...there was a community called Old Sarum populated by two families, separate and apart in the beginning, but unfortunately bearing the same name. The Cunninghams and the Coninghams married each other until the spelling of the names was academic - academic unless a Cunningham wished to jape with a Coningham over land titles and took to the law. During a controversy of this character, Jeems Cunningham testified that his mother spelled it Cunningham occasionally on deeds and things but she was really a Coningham, she was an uncertain speller, and she was given to looking far away sometimes when she sat on the front porch. After nine hours of listening to the vagaries of Old Sarum's inhabitants, Judge Taylor threw the case out of court on grounds of frivolous pleading and declared he hoped to God the litigants were satisfied by each having had his public say. They were. That was all they had wanted in the first place.

To Kill A Mockingbird, chapter 16:

Old Sarum, their stamping grounds, was populated by two families separate and apart in the beginning, but unfortunately bearing the same name. The Cunninghams married the Coninghams until the spelling of the names was academic- academic until a Cunningham disputed a Coningham over land titles and took to the law. The only time Jean Louise ever saw Judge Taylor at a dead standstill in open court was during a dispute of this kind. Jeems Cunningham testified that his mother spelled it Cunningham on deeds and things, but she was really a Coningham, she was an uncertain speller, a seldom reader, and was given to looking far away sometimes when she sat on the front gallery in the evening. After nine hours of listening to the eccentricities of Old Sarum's inhabitants, Judge Taylor threw the case out of court. When asked upon what grounds, Judge Taylor said, "Champertous connivance," and declared he hoped to God the litigants were satisfied by each having had their public say. They were. That was all they had wanted in the first place.

All in all, Quartz lists a total of eight passages that are either identical or very similar to each other, pointing out these are "just a few" examples.

Go Set A Watchman is set 20 years after the events in To Kill A Mockingbird, featuring a grown-up Scout Finch and her father, Atticus Finch.

The latest book has already come into controversy as Atticus, the hero lawyer of the 1960 book, is now portrayed as a racist who attends Ku Klux Klan meetings and opposes racial desegregation in Alabama.