Quiz: Can You Guess the Book Based on Its Original Title?

Test your knowledge of literary history with this quiz.
Can you figure it out?
Can you figure it out? / Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment/Getty Images (books), ahmad agung wijayanto/Shutterstock (question marks)

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) carries one of the most evocative and familiar book titles of the 20th century. But when Lee first submitted part of the work to her agent, Maurice Crain, it was cryptically titled Go Set a Watchman. Crain changed it to Atticus, after the book’s protagonist, attorney Atticus Finch. Finally, the parties agreed To Kill a Mockingbird was the most fitting. (Go Set a Watchman did get its day: It was the title of a book published in 2015 that featured Finch and daughter Scout and was, in the words of The New York Times, “essentially an early version of Mockingbird. ... Watchman was submitted to publishers in the summer of 1957; after her editor asked for a rewrite focusing on Scout’s girlhood two decades earlier, Ms. Lee spent some two years reworking the story, which became Mockingbird.”)

Lee’s work is far from the only classic to bear one title before a more appropriate one revealed itself. See if you can guess some of our greatest literary masterpieces based on their working titles.

An intriguing title can make the difference between a book being plucked from bookstore shelves by eager readers and being sent to the discount bin. Theories abound on how to select a title, including support for brief names (Dune, It) and putting a twist on what the competition is doing.

One might also consider how a title will translate into foreign languages. In France, To Kill a Mockingbird is Ne Tirez Pas Sur L'oiseau Moqueur, or the somewhat inelegant Don’t Shoot at the Mockingbird.

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