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Books About Literary Forgery

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Literary classics haven't just been created... they've also been forged. Read about some of the most famous literary forgeries.

1. The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary Crime

by Simon Worrall. Plume. From the publisher: "By weaving together the story of this masterful forgery with fascinating insights into the life and work of America's most elusive poet, Simon Worrall has created a book that explores the edge between art and artifice, and genius and madness."

2. Warmly Inscribed: The New England Forger and Other Book Tales

by Lawrence Goldstone, Nancy Goldstone. St. Martin's Press. From the publisher: "Forgeries, famous and otherwise; feature largely among the tidbits of arcane booklore that the Goldstones share with their readers this time around. The clever detective work that led to the uncovering of the infamous New England forger is recounted in all its fascinating detail..."

3. Practice to Deceive

by Joseph Rosenblum, John Lewis (Foreword). Oak Knoll Press. From the publisher: "'Practice' to Deceive offers a unique window into the world and mind of the literary forger. What compulsion drove these men to risk their good name, their profession, and, for some, their freedom? What triggered their will to create spurious literature and their audacity to swindle or dupe unsuspecting buyers?"

4. Fantasy, Forgery and the Byron Legend

by James Soderholm. University Press of Kentucky. From the publisher: "Soderholm argues against the sentimental depictions of biographers who would preserve Byron's romantic aura by diminishing the contributions of these women to his social, sexual, and literary identity."

5. Faking Literature

by K. K. Ruthven. Cambridge University Press. From the publisher: "As a powerful indictment of dubious practices in such activities as literary criticism, book-reviewing and the awarding of literary prizes, literary forgery merits serious attention from cultural analysts, and should be a key component of literary studies."

6. Making of History: A Study of the Literary Forgeries

by Ian Haywood. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. From the publisher: "In 'The Making of History' Ian Haywood considers the literary forgeries of James MacPherson and Thomas Chatterton in terms of the important eighteenth century debate about the validity of using literature as a historical source and history as a literary topic."

7. Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous

by Don Foster. Henry Holt & Company. How do you differentiate a forgery from an original manuscript, a literary classic? Don Foster uses a kind of "literary forensics" to distinguish the true author of the words.

8. Shakespeare and the Ireland Forgeries

by Derk Bodde. M.S.G. Haskell House. From the publisher: "A lively and scholarly account of the most spectacular and daring of the Shakespeare forgeries, those which first appeared in England and Ireland in 1795-1796. The forgeries, written by a seventeen-year-old Irish lad, consisted of deeds, letters, documents, and two spurious plays, and fooled Boswell and other knowledgeable critics."

9. The Recognitions

by William Gaddis, William H. Gass (Introduction). Penguin Classics. First published in 1955, this book is about Wyatt Gwyon -- a man with artistic talents who becomes a forger. This book has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of American modern fiction. Gaddis said that his book was "quite explicitly a parody on the Faust story."

10. Poems of Ossian and Related Works

by James MacPherson, Howard Gaskill (Editor). Edinburgh University. From the publisher: "This annotated edition is based on the 1765 text of the Works of Ossian, republished here for the first time in its entirety; major variants from other editions are included, together with a comprehensive descriptive register of Ossianic names. A critical introduction explains the genesis of the work..."

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