The manuscript was originally thought to be lost. According to The New York Times, the typed manuscript of Go Set a Watchman was first found during an appraisal of Lee's assets in 2011 in a safe deposit box in Lee's hometown of Monroeville. Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter, later revealed that she had first assumed the manuscript to be an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. Later, upon learning in the middle of 2014 of the existence of a second novel at a family gathering, she then re-examined Lee's safe-deposit box and found the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman. After contacting Lee and reading the manuscript, she passed it on to Lee’s agent, Andrew Nurnberg.
Lee released a statement through her attorney in regards to the discovery:
- "In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."