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Conning the booktrade connoisseurs

Fuelled by loathing and resentment, Thomas James Wise set about defrauding as many privileged bibliophiles as he could – only to be rumbled by two of their number

16 March 2024

9:00 AM

16 March 2024

9:00 AM

The Book Forger: The True Story of a Literary Crime that Fooled the World Joseph Hone

Chatto, pp.336, 22

Literary scandals – like actual scandals – come and go. Who now recalls, or indeed cares less about, the hoo-ha surrounding whether or not the professional huckster James Frey made stuff up in his much celebrated 2004 memoir A Million Little Pieces and then had the audacity to lie about it to Oprah Winfrey? Anyone remember JT LeRoy? Binjamin Wilkomirski?

Authorship debates, accusations of plagiarism, obscenity controversies, way-out wacky and appalling author behaviour, rivalries, forgeries – they all tend to be storms in teeny-tiny, super-fragile, already half-cracked literary teacups that soon subside and slip from the gossip columns and the culture...

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