Gone Fishing

Haven't posted much lately, partly due to a lack of news and partly due to other interests. I'll leave the blog up as a courtesy to researchers but am moving on to other projects.


Making the Morning Rounds

Via the very observant Philobiblos blog we learned of another, The Literary Detective. Good job of spotlighting some suspicious activity in the bookselling realm. I was also drawn to "What were they reading on the Titanic?" but couldn't pull up a copy of the item. I'll go back for another look, care to join me?
(The real mystery is why some of these links don't show up. If the Philobiblos link isn't active you can find it here:


Ambrose: Pants On Fire, Again

An article in the New Yorker revealing further deceptions on the part of the late and popular historian Stephen Ambrose is making the rounds. Quite a number of comments question the importance of Ambrose' lies and plagiarism, seeing the greater good in his popularizing of history. Perhaps they are on the defensive because it is so difficult to make an honest living or speak the truth these days. Though, really, there's nothing new about fabrication and theft as tools of the history trade. Not to say that all who write history avail themselves of those tools of course.


The Diary of a Public Man

Another scholar has attempted to solve the mysteries surrounding The Diary of a Public Man, a high level window on Washington life during the Civil War era. The controversy regarding efforts to identify the Public Man is fascinating. I look forward to seeing this new book.


Mark Twain, Literary Critic

A list of two hundred books from Mark Twain's library. And a story on Twain's marginalia -- his written comments in various of the books.

At the moment the links don't seem to be coming up in the post, here they are:


"Kidnapped" Tale Based on True Story

Robert Louis Stevenson's exciting tale had a basis in fact.


Strangers on a Train

This isn't literary mischief, just plain old murder, but it hooked me so I'll pass it along. ABE Books sends around theme-based ideas for collectors and this time it was mysteries involving trains. Somehow a train traveling across an exotic landscape in the middle of the night just seems the perfect setting for mystery. Here's the link.


The Master Thief

He stole thousands of books and manuscripts. They are still turning up, 150 years later. He was also a forger, and a respected scholar.

Jane Austen's Head is Missing

A bit of statuary really, missing from the Jane Austen Garden.


The Diary of Miss Idilia

That's the title of a memoir of dubious authenticity described here. I found reviews elsewhere but no one as yet seems to have dug for the story behind the book. Let me know if you run across any investigative work on it and I'll keep looking as well. This is one of the times I wish I still had the resources of a big newspaper or magazine to call upon. By the way the link is to a blog I'd call first-rate. Usually the chatty, personal, thoughtful blogs put my innards in a spin. I could go on about exactly why I like this one but then I'd be getting chatty, personal and thoughtful. I will say Lulu's profile presented a great list of "favorite books."


Lobsang Rampa Correspondence

One of the more controversial modern hoaxes concerns "The Third Eye" and other mystical works by Lobsang Rampa. Some of his defenders are fairly ferocious even though it has been shown that he never set foot in Tibet or anywhere near. I am posting the auction link on Mar. 6, 2010 -- as it is an auction it may not remain available.


Sued Over a Book Review

Here's a rather chilling case, a libel suit resulting from an unfavorable book review. Regardless of the outcome it may well discourage serious criticism in the future. At a time when most book reviews appearing on the Internet are untrustworthy garbage, it's a shame to see the work of professionals jeopardized in this way.


Book Marketing Q&A

If you're in the book business on the Internet there's a newsletter I would recommend to your attention, available by signing up at Steve Weber's site. it's called "Selling Books" and looks as though it's done the way newsletters used to be done -- firsthand research and reporting.

Potter Plagiarism?

Here we go again with Harry Potter and plagiarism. Those behind the lawsuit figure it's good for a billion dollars, or was that pounds. Check it out here.


Internet Pirates

She may not have realized she was pillaging the work of others to create her best-seller, as a child of the Internet era she may have thought she was simply "remixing." Right. Well, an interesting discussion follows the report in the Guardian.


The Great Tate Hoax

Many of those who were close to the great Nat Tate hoax claim they knew all along the artist never existed but that may have been face-saving. Here's an excellent look back on what may have been "The Greatest."


"It's a sham, a scam."

That's the nutshell of The New Republic's review of the "new" Nabokov novel just released at $35 by Knopf. As far as anything actually new, the price works out to just over a dollar per page of Nabokov.


Shakespeare Thriller

We don't routinely report on works of fiction but this one may spark discussion as to its factual basis. Said to rely on serious research, the book proposes that Shakespeare could "barely write his own name" and provided cover for the actual author of "his" plays. Various clues have been discovered providing a coded message regarding the name of the true author.


Too Cold? Burn Some Books

Pensioners in Britain are said to be buying up cheap books to burn in lieu of higher priced coal.

Literary Autopsy of the Opium-Eater

Another author has put poor Thomas de Quincy through the slicer-dicer. From the review, it does appear to be a commendable and very readable effort.