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Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jul 13th, 2015. Artwork published in
July 2015
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird, her Pulitzer Prize-winning classic. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014. [HarperCollins]

On the Guardian’s Books blog, Stuart Bache dissects the cover design:

The blue US jacket is a love letter to the first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird [published in 1960] – from the typeface used, to the pictorial style. The name of Harper Lee stands prominent (notice that on the original edition her name is on one line and is much smaller).

Of course there is the “Author of” line across the top, but the entire cover is To Kill a Mockingbird, just 20 years on from the original story’s timeframe. There sits the tree, a little older now, with far fewer leaves and without the beautiful vibrancy of the green. Instead the ones that remain are gold; perhaps Scout returns in autumn, or it’s a suggestion of her age, or of Atticus’s age – he is in his “golden years” after all. […] 

Bache is certainly spot on about the cover having been “designed with the sole purpose of being a companion to the first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird”, down to the similarly looking letterforms. There is one major technological difference, though: While the text on the cover from 1960 was lettered, i.e. drawn or written by hand, the lines on the new design are typeset, using prefabricated letters as defined and stored in a font. The fonts in use here are Caterina Bold and Bold Italic as designed by Paul Veres in 1999.


  • Caterina




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2 Comments on “Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee”

  1. Earlier on, Dan Wagstaff of Casual Optimist commented on this cover design (as well as the UK version), emphasizing that

    for all the vintage styling, there is a kind of efficiency to new design that is, I think, unmistakably modern. The illustration, the colour palette, and even the brush-stroke typography, all have the feel of contemporary commercial fiction. It will not look out of place either online, or along side other bestsellers in Barnes and Noble.

    In an article by Margaret Rhodes for Wired, Paul Sahre is quoted saying that the cover is “a pastiche, and a parody. […] It’s something that originated in the past but is now being published now, and that isn’t reflected in the cover. […] it’s just a missed opportunity more than anything else.”

  2. It may be pastiche, but it’s well-executed pastiche. I would prefer hand lettering, but I think Caterina references that style of ’50s book jacket pretty well.

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