Fake memoirs

Fake memoirs

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Encyclopedia
Fake memoirs form a category of literary forgery
Literary forgery
Literary forgery refers to writing, such as a manuscript or a literary work either deliberately misattributed to a historical or invented author, or a purported memoir presented as genuine.- History :The common, or popularly known, instance of literary forgery may involve for example the work of a...

 in which a wholly or partially fabricated autobiography
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

, memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

 or journal
Diary
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

 of an individual is presented as fact. Often, the purported author of the work also is fabricated. In recent years, there have been a number of such memoirs published by major publishers, some of which were well received critically and even became best sellers, but which subsequently were shown to be partly or completely fabricated. A number of recent fake memoirs fall into the category of "misery lit
Misery lit
Misery lit is a term ostensibly coined by The Bookseller magazine that describes a genre of biographical literature mostly concerned with the protagonist's triumph over personal trauma or abuse, often during childhood...

," where the author claims to have overcome illness, abuse, drug or alcohol addiction or other serious trauma. Several similarly are fabricated stories about the Holocaust, in at least one case written by an actual Holocaust survivor.

As a result of the recent series of best seller memoirs that have turned out to be fabricated, there have been calls for stronger vetting of new authors and fact checking of their books.

Public reception


A number of fake memoirs in recent years have been published by renowned publishing houses and received critical acclaim before being exposed as partial or complete fabrications. Five of the memoirs, Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood (Binjamin Wilkomirski),The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams (Nasdijj), Love and Consequences (Margaret Seltzer),The greatest, my own story (Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

 and Richard Durham) and Go Ask Alice (Anonymous) were praised by the New York Times before being exposed as fabrications. Three of the memoirs, Love and Consequences (Margaret Seltzer), Angel at the Fence (Herman Rosenblat) and Odd Man Out (Matt McCarthy) were published, or in the case of Angel at the Fence, scheduled to be published, by Penguin Group USA
Penguin Group
The Penguin Group is a trade book publisher, the largest in the world , having overtaken Random House in 2009. The Penguin Group is the name of the incorporated division of parent Pearson PLC that oversees these publishing operations...

. Two of the memoirs, A Million Little Pieces (James Frey) and The greatest, my own story (Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

 and Richard Durham) were published by Random House
Random House
Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

. Two of the authors, James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) and Herman Rosenblat (prior to writing his Angel at the Fence), as well as someone posing as Anthony Godby Johnson
Anthony Godby Johnson
Anthony Godby Johnson is the subject and supposed author of the 1993 memoir A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story. Subsequent investigations suggest that there may have never been a person by this name, and that his entire story was a fabrication on the part of Vicki Johnson, the...

 (A Rock and a Hard Place), appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

, only to have their fabrications exposed, their book deals cancelled, and/or be confronted by Oprah on her show.
The dust-up over falsified memoirs even inspired the title of Andrea Troy's satiric novel, "Daddy-An Absolutely Authentic Fake Memoir".

List of fake memoirs and journals


  • Matt McCarthy, Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit
    Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit
    Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit is a 2009 memoir by Matt McCarthy in which McCarthy recounts his experiences as a professional baseball player in the Anaheim Angels minor-league system...

     Viking
    Viking
    The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

     (a division of Penguin Group USA
    Penguin Group
    The Penguin Group is a trade book publisher, the largest in the world , having overtaken Random House in 2009. The Penguin Group is the name of the incorporated division of parent Pearson PLC that oversees these publishing operations...

    ) (February 2009) is a memoir describing McCarthy's summer as a minor league pitcher. He writes about playing with racist teammates who take steroids; however, statistics from that season, combined with transaction listings and interviews with former teammates, suggest that much of the book is false. Prior to having its authenticity challenged, the book was promoted by Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

    . Carolyn Coleburn, the publisher's vice president and director of publicity said, “We rely on our authors to tell the truth and fact-check.”

  • Herman Rosenblat
    Herman Rosenblat
    Herman A. Rosenblat, born in Poland in 1929, is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States in 1950 and later wrote the Holocaust survival memoir Angel at the Fence...

    , Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived
    Angel at the Fence
    Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, written by Herman Rosenblat, was claimed by its author to be a Holocaust memoir telling the story of his reunion with and marriage to a girl who had passed him food through the fence while he was imprisoned at Schlieben, part of the...

     (February 2009, cancelled), is a Holocaust memoir in which the author invented the story that, while he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp
    Buchenwald concentration camp
    Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

    , a young girl from the outside would pass him food through the fence daily and years later they accidentally met and married. Rosenblat appeared twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show
    The Oprah Winfrey Show
    The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

    . Prior to the book's announced publication, Winfrey called the story "the single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air." The book was scheduled for publication in February 2009 by Berkley Books
    Berkley Books
    Berkley Books is an imprint of Penguin Group that began as an independent company in 1955. It was established by Charles Byrne and Frederic Klein, who were working for Avon and formed "Chic News Company". They renamed it Berkley Publishing Co. in 1955. They soon found a niche in science fiction...

    , a division of Penguin Group USA
    Penguin Group
    The Penguin Group is a trade book publisher, the largest in the world , having overtaken Random House in 2009. The Penguin Group is the name of the incorporated division of parent Pearson PLC that oversees these publishing operations...

    , but has been cancelled. Although the author fabricated details about how he met his wife, he is an authentic holocaust survivor.

  • Margaret Seltzer
    Margaret Seltzer
    Margaret Seltzer is an American writer. Her first book, Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival , about her alleged experiences growing up as a half white, half Native American foster child and Bloods gang member in South Central Los Angeles, was proven to be fictitious...

     (pseud. Margaret B. Jones), Love and Consequences, Riverhead Books
    Riverhead Books
    Riverhead Books is a division of Penguin Group .Notable books and major bestsellers published by Riverhead include Journals by Kurt Cobain; The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; The Color of Water by James McBride; Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft by Chang-rae Lee; Fever...

     (a division of Penguin Group USA
    Penguin Group
    The Penguin Group is a trade book publisher, the largest in the world , having overtaken Random House in 2009. The Penguin Group is the name of the incorporated division of parent Pearson PLC that oversees these publishing operations...

    ) (2008), a critically received memoir of a girl, part white and part native American, growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child in a world of drug dealers and gang members. In fact, the work was completely fabricated. Prior to being exposed as fabricated, the book was praised as "humane and deeply affecting" by Michiko Kakutani
    Michiko Kakutani
    is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times and is considered by many to be a leading literary critic in the United States.-Life and career:...

     of The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    .

  • JT LeRoy
    JT LeRoy
    Jeremiah "Terminator" LeRoy was a pseudonym created by American writer Laura Albert. The name was used from 1996 on for publication in magazines such as Nerve and Shout NY. After his first novel Sarah was published, "LeRoy" started making public appearances...

     (pseud. Laura Victoria Albert
    Laura Albert
    Laura Victoria Albert is the author of writings credited to the fictional teenage persona of JT LeRoy, a long-running literary hoax in which LeRoy was presented to the public and publishers as a transgender, sexually questioning, abused, former homeless drug addict and male prostitute...

    ) published a number of fabricated writings (c. 2005) in which LeRoy was presented as a transgendered, sexually questioning, abused, former homeless teenage drug addict and male prostitute.

  • James Frey
    James Frey
    James Christopher Frey is an American writer. His books A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard , as well as Bright Shiny Morning , were bestsellers...

    , A Million Little Pieces
    A Million Little Pieces
    A Million Little Pieces is a semi-fictional memoir by James Frey. It tells the story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug abuser and how he copes with rehabilitation in a Twelve steps-oriented treatment center...

    , Doubleday Books (a division of Random House
    Random House
    Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

    ) (2003), a best selling memoir in which the author created and exaggerated significant details of his drug addiction and recovery. The author appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show
    The Oprah Winfrey Show
    The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

    , and in September 2005, the book became an Oprah's Book Club
    Oprah's Book Club
    Oprah's Book Club was a book discussion club segment of the American talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, highlighting books chosen by host Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey started the book club in 1996, selecting a new novel for viewers to read and discuss each month. The Club ended its 15-year run, along with...

     selection. However, when the book's authenticity was called into question, the author and publisher Nan Talese were invited back and publicly scolded by Winfrey in a live face-to-face confrontation. The media feasted over the televised showdown. David Carr
    David Carr (journalist)
    David Carr is an American journalist and author. He is a media and culture columnist for The New York Times. In his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun, he detailed his past experiences with cocaine addiction and includes interviews with people from his past, tackling his memoir as if he were...

     of the New York Times wrote, "Both Mr. Frey and Ms. Talese were snapped in two like dry winter twigs." "Oprah annihilates Frey," proclaimed Larry King. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
    Maureen Dowd
    Maureen Bridgid Dowd is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, she worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news as well as sports and wrote feature articles...

     wrote, "It was a huge relief, after our long national slide into untruth and no consequences, into Swift boating and swift bucks, into W
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

    .'s delusion and denial, to see the Empress of Empathy icily hold someone accountable for lying," and the Washington Posts Richard Cohen
    Richard Cohen (journalist)
    Richard Cohen, is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post.-Background:Cohen is a graduate of Far Rockaway High School and attended Hunter College, New York University, and Columbia University...

     was so impressed by the confrontation that he crowned Winfrey "Mensch of the Year."

  • Norma Khouri
    Norma Khouri
    Norma Khouri is the pen name of author Norma Bagain Toliopoulos . She is the author of the book titled Honor Lost in America, and Forbidden Love in Australia and the Commonwealth, released by Random House in 2003..Her best-selling book, which purported to described the honor killing of her best...

    , Forbidden Love (also published as Honor Lost in the United States), Bantam Books
    Bantam Books
    Bantam Books is an American publishing house owned entirely by Random House, the German media corporation subsidiary of Bertelsmann; it is an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. It was formed in 1945 by Walter B. Pitkin, Jr., Sidney B. Kramer, and Ian and Betty Ballantine...

    , Australia (2003); Doubleday, New York (2003), is the supposed story of her best friend in Jordan, Dalia, who fell in love with a Christian soldier. Dalia's Muslim father was not told of the relationship, and when he eventually discovered it, he stabbed Dalia to death in a so-called honor killing.

  • Michael Gambino (actually Michael Pelligrino
    Michael Pelligrino
    Michael Pelligrino is a US man who fooled US publisher Simon & Schuster to think that he was Michael Gambino, grandson of Mafioso Carlo Gambino.In 1999 Pelligrino was jailed for theft and impersonating an FBI agent...

    ) wrote The Honored Society, Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

     (2001). The book, supposedly by the grandson of Mafioso Carlo Gambino
    Carlo Gambino
    "Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

    , described his life as a gangster, including spending 12 years in prison for bribery, gambling, extortion, kidnapping, money laundering, murder and pimping. Carlo Gambino’s real son, Thomas Gambino, exposed the fraud, and the publisher withdrew the book.

  • Nasdijj
    Nasdijj
    Timothy Patrick Barrus is an American author who, under the pseudonym Nasdijj, wrote three supposed memoirs of his experiences as a Native American, which were published between 2000 and 2004....

     (pseud. Timothy Patrick "Tim" Barrus
    Nasdijj
    Timothy Patrick Barrus is an American author who, under the pseudonym Nasdijj, wrote three supposed memoirs of his experiences as a Native American, which were published between 2000 and 2004....

    ), wrote The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams
    Nasdijj
    Timothy Patrick Barrus is an American author who, under the pseudonym Nasdijj, wrote three supposed memoirs of his experiences as a Native American, which were published between 2000 and 2004....

    , Houghton Mifflin
    Houghton Mifflin
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults.-History:The company was...

     (2000), The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping
    Nasdijj
    Timothy Patrick Barrus is an American author who, under the pseudonym Nasdijj, wrote three supposed memoirs of his experiences as a Native American, which were published between 2000 and 2004....

     (2003), and Geronimo's Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me
    Nasdijj
    Timothy Patrick Barrus is an American author who, under the pseudonym Nasdijj, wrote three supposed memoirs of his experiences as a Native American, which were published between 2000 and 2004....

     (2004). These works recounted various aspects of the author's supposed life, including his Navajo heritage, his self-destructive and abusive parents, his unhappy childhood as a migrant worker, his dysfunctional relationships with other family members, and, eventually, his growing up to become the nurturing father of first an adopted child with fetal alcohol syndrome and then one who is HIV-positive. Prior to being exposed as fabricated, The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and winner of the Salon Book Award. It was described by Esquire
    Esquire (magazine)
    Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...

     as an "authentic, important book...Unfailingly honest and very nearly perfect."

  • Misha Defonseca
    Misha Defonseca
    Misha Defonseca , born as Monique de Wael, is a Belgian writer and the author of Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, first published in 1997 and at that time professed to be a memoir. It became an instant success in Europe and was translated into 18 languages...

     (real name: Monique de Wael), Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years
    Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years
    Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years is a book by Misha Defonseca, first published in 1997. The book was originally claimed to be a memoir telling the true story of how the author survived The Holocaust as a young Jewish girl, wandering Europe searching for her deported parents...

    , Mt. Ivy Press (1997), a fabricated memoir of a supposed Holocaust survivor who walked 1,900 miles across Europe searching for her parents, killed a German officer in self-defense and lived with a pack of wolves. The work was a best seller, translated into 18 languages and was made into a movie.

  • Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski was a name which Bruno Dössekker adopted in his constructed identity as a Holocaust survivor and published author...

    , Fragments
    Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski was a name which Bruno Dössekker adopted in his constructed identity as a Holocaust survivor and published author...

    , Shocken Books (US edition, 1996), an acclaimed but fabricated Holocaust memoir. Prior to being exposed as fabricated, The New York Times called the book "stunning," the Los Angeles Times described it as a "classic first-hand account of the Holocaust", it received the 1996 National Jewish Book Award for Autobiography and Memoir, in Britain it received the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize, and in France it was awarded the Prix Memoire de la Shoah.

  • Helen Demidenko (pseud. Helen Dale), wrote The Hand That Signed the Paper, Allen & Unwin
    Allen & Unwin
    Allen & Unwin, formerly a major British publishing house, is now an independent book publisher and distributor based in Australia. The Australian directors have been the sole owners of the Allen & Unwin name since effecting a management buy out at the time the UK parent company, Unwin Hyman, was...

    , Australia (1994). Presented as a supposedly autobiographical story of a student’s discovery of her family's bleak wartime history as peasants in Ukraine under Stalinism and their “liberation” by the Nazi invasion. The book won a number of awards.

  • Anthony Godby Johnson
    Anthony Godby Johnson
    Anthony Godby Johnson is the subject and supposed author of the 1993 memoir A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story. Subsequent investigations suggest that there may have never been a person by this name, and that his entire story was a fabrication on the part of Vicki Johnson, the...

     wrote A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story, Crown Books
    Crown Publishing Group
    -External links:*...

    , New York; Little Brown, London (1993), a story of a young boy, sexually abused by his parents and later adopted, who discovers he is HIV-positive and who develops AIDS. This book has been challenged on a number of accounts and has been alleged to be the fictional product of Vicki Johnson, also known as Vicki Fraginals Zackheim. "Tony," the subject of the book, made an "appearance" on the Oprah Winfrey Show, interviewed with his face obscured.

  • Marlo Morgan
    Marlo Morgan
    Marlo Morgan is an American author, best known for the bestselling book Mutant Message Down Under. She has also written Message from Forever , another novel based on Australian Aboriginal themes....

     wrote Mutant Message Down Under, MM Co. (self-published), Lees Summit, Missouri (1991); Harper Collins, New York (1994). The book claimed to be a memoir of her time spent with Aboriginals. The book has caused protests by Aboriginal groups. Parts of it have been asserted to be invented, and the publisher has reissued it labeled as fiction.

  • Lauren Stratford (actually Laurel Rose Willson
    Laurel Rose Willson
    Laurel Rose Willson was an American woman born in Washington, whose allegations of satanic ritual abuse were published under the alias Lauren Stratford, which she would later adopt as her legal name...

    ) wrote Satan's Underground, Harvest House
    Harvest House
    Harvest House Publishers is Christian publishing company founded in 1974 in Irvine, California, United States and is now located in Eugene, Oregon, United States...

    , Oregon (1988), purporting to tell a true story of her upbringing in a Satanic cult, but later branded as fabricated. She later assumed the guise of a Holocaust survivor and adopted the alias of Laura Grabowski.

  • Konrad Kujau
    Konrad Kujau
    Konrad Paul Kujau was an illustrator and forger who became famous in 1983 as the creator of the so-called Hitler Diaries, for which he received DM 2.5 million from a person who in turn sold it for DM 9.3 million to the magazine Stern.-Early life:"Konny" Kujau was one of five children of Richard...

     forged The Hitler Diaries
    Hitler Diaries
    In April 1983, the West German news magazine Stern published excerpts from what purported to be the diaries of Adolf Hitler, known as the Hitler Diaries , which were subsequently revealed to be forgeries...

     in 1983. When first published in the Sunday Times, the diaries were authenticated by the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, but they were demonstrated to be crude fakes, written on modern paper, within a few weeks.

  • David Rorvik
    David Rorvik
    David Michael Rorvik is an American journalist and novelist who was the author of the 1978 book In his Image: The Cloning of a Man in which he claimed to have been part of a successful endeavor to create a clone of a human being....

     wrote In his Image: the Cloning of a Man, J. B. Lippincott
    Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Lippincott Williams & Wilkins is an academic and professional medical publisher owned by Wolters Kluwer group. It publishes textbooks, various electronic media, and over 275 journals and newsletters in the health-care field. Publications are aimed at physicians, nurses, clinicians, and students...

    , Philadelphia and New York (1978), in which he claimed to have been part of a successful endeavor to create a clone of a human being. A court, in a defamation suit found the book was a hoax which the publisher subsequently acknowledged, but Rorvik continues to maintain it is truthful.

  • Forrest Carter (pseud. Asa Earl Carter
    Asa Earl Carter
    Asa Earl Carter was an American political speechwriter and author. He was most notable for publishing novels and a best-selling, award-winning memoir under the name Forrest Carter, an identity as a Native American Cherokee...

    ), The Education of Little Tree
    The Education of Little Tree
    The Education of Little Tree is a memoir-style novel written by Asa Earl Carter under the pseudonym Forrest Carter. Since its first publication by Delacorte Press in 1976, the book has been the subject of acclaim. Many people have been drawn to its message of simple living, tradition, and love of...

    , Delacorte Press (1976). An acclaimed book about growing up among the Cherokee Indians, in fact fiction written by a former white supremacist.

  • Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

     and Richard Durham, The greatest, my own story, Random House
    Random House
    Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

     (1975). The book described the life and career of boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The book claimed that Ali threw his gold medal in the river after it failed to prevent him from being racially discriminated against. The New York Times described the book as "honest" and "very convincing" and The Detroit Free Press called it "the greatest, most honest contribution to sports literature perhaps ever." Ali's sidekick Bundini Brown later told Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram, "Honkies sure bought into that one." Ali's best friend Howard Bingham would later admit that the story was "concocted."

  • Clifford Irving
    Clifford Irving
    Clifford Michael Irving is an American author of novels and works of nonfiction, but best known for using forged handwritten letters to convince his publisher into accepting a fake "autobiography" of reclusive businessman Howard Hughes in the early 1970s...

    , The Autobiography of Howard Hughes
    Howard Hughes
    Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

    , McGraw-Hill
    McGraw-Hill
    The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., is a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its primary areas of business are financial, education, publishing, broadcasting, and business services...

     (1972). A fabricated autobiography of the reclusive billionaire.

  • Anonymous (actually Beatrice Sparks
    Beatrice Sparks
    Beatrice Sparks is an American therapist and Mormon youth counselor who is known for producing books purporting to be the 'real diaries' of troubled teenagers. The books deal with topical issues such as drug abuse, Satanism, teenage pregnancy or AIDS, and are presented as cautionary tales...

    ), Go Ask Alice
    Go Ask Alice
    Go Ask Alice is a controversial 1971 book about the life of a troubled teenage girl. The book continues its claim to be the actual diary of an anonymous teenage girl who became addicted to drugs, but this has been dismissed as false. Beatrice Sparks is listed as the author of the book by the United...

    , Prentice-Hall (1971), purportedly the diary of an anonymous teenage girl who died of a drug overdose in the late 1960s. Sparks is known for producing a number of books purporting to be the "real diaries" of troubled teenagers. Prior to the book's authenticity being challenged, The New York Times praised it as an "extraordinary work for teenagers" and "a document of horrifying reality and literary quality".

  • Carlos Castaneda
    Carlos Castaneda
    Carlos Castaneda was a Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author....

     wrote a series of books that describe his training in traditional Mesoamerican shamanism, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan
    The Teachings of Don Juan
    The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was published by the University of California Press in 1968 as a work of anthropology. It was written by Carlos Castaneda and submitted as his master’s thesis in the school of anthropology...

    , University of California Press (1968). His 12 books have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. It is disputed whether his stories are truthful or fabricated.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

     My Sister and I (1951). Supposedly written in 1889 or early 1890 during Nietzsche's stay in a mental asylum, this fictitious biography makes several bold and otherwise unreported claims, most notably of an incestuous relationship between Nietzsche and his sister.

  • John Knyveton The Diary of a Surgeon in the Year 1751-1752, edited and transcribed by Ernest Gray, New York, D. Appleton-Century
    Appleton-Century-Crofts
    Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., was a division of the Meredith Publishing Company. It is a result of the merger of Appleton-Century Company with F.S. Crofts Co. in 1948. Prior to that, The Century Company had merged with D...

     (1938). Some believe the diary is a forgery, and possibly a fictitious rehandling of the memoirs of Thomas Denman, 1733-1815.

  • Joan Lowell
    Joan Lowell
    Helen Joan Lowell was a movie actress of the silent film era from Berkeley, California. Lowell published a sensational autobiography, Cradle of the Deep in 1929, which turned out to be a pure fabrication....

    's Cradle of the Deep (1929), published by Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

    . Lowell claimed that, before she was even a year old, her sea captain father took her away from her ailing mother to live on the Minnie A. Caine, a trading ship. She lived on the ship, with its all male crew, until she was 17. The book ends with the ship burning and sinking off Australia, and with Lowell swimming three miles to safety, with a family of kittens clinging by their claws to her back. In fact, Lowell had been on the ship, which remained safe in California, for only 15 months. The book was a sensational best seller until it was exposed as a pure invention.

  • Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance
    Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance
    Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance , born Sylvester Clark Long, was an American journalist, writer and actor from Winston-Salem, North Carolina who became internationally prominent as a spokesman for Indian causes...

     (actually Sylvester Clark Long) wrote an autobiography entitled Long Lance (1928), published by Cosmopolitan Book Company, in which he claimed to have been born a Blackfoot
    Blackfoot
    The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana....

    , son of a chief, in Montana's Sweetgrass Hills, was wounded eight times in World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

     and promoted to the rank of captain. In fact, the story was fabricated and Lance was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

  • Abel Fosdyk (likely A. Howard Linford), Abel Fosdyk's Story
    Abel Fosdyk papers
    The Abel Fosdyk papers is an apocryphal explanation of the fate of the Mary Celeste which was presented on its original publication in 1913 as true but which is most likely a literary hoax.-Publication:...

    , published in The Strand Magazine, 1913. An almost certainly fabricated story, in diary form, of the mystery of the abandoned Mary Celeste
    Mary Celeste
    The Mary Celeste was an American brigantine merchant ship famous for having been discovered on 4 December 1872, in the Atlantic Ocean unmanned and apparently abandoned , despite the fact that the weather was fine and her crew had been experienced and able...

    , written by a supposed passenger.

  • Edmund Backhouse
    Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet
    Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, 2nd Baronet was a British oriental scholar and linguist whose work exerted a powerful influence on the Western view of the last decades of the Qing Dynasty. Since his death, however, it has been established that some of his sources were forged, though it is not clear...

     wrote China Under the Empress Dowager: being the History of the Life and Times of Tzu Hsi, Compiled from State Papers and the Private Diary of the Comptroller of her Household, London, Heinemann
    Heinemann (book publisher)
    Heinemann is a UK publishing house founded by William Heinemann in Covent Garden, London in 1890. On William Heinemann's death in 1920 a majority stake was purchased by U.S. publisher Doubleday. It was later acquired by commemorate Thomas Tilling in 1961...

    ; Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co. (1910). The diary on which the book was based was later shown to have been fabricated by Backhouse.

  • Philip Aegidius Walshe (actually Montgomery Carmichael), The Life of John William Walshe, F.S.A., London, Burns & Oates, (1901); New York, E. P. Dutton
    E. P. Dutton
    E. P. Dutton was an American book publishing company founded as a book retailer in Boston, Massachusetts in 1852 by Edward Payson Dutton. In 1986, the company was acquired by Penguin Group and split into two imprints: Dutton Penguin and Dutton Children's Books.-History:Edward Payson Dutton founded...

     (1902), a son’s story of his father’s life in Italy as “a profound mystic and student of everything relating to St. Francis of Assisi.” In fact the son, the father, and the memoir were all invented by Montgomery Carmichael.

  • Davy Crockett
    Davy Crockett
    David "Davy" Crockett was a celebrated 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S...

    , Col. Crockett's exploits and adventures in Texas: wherein is contained a full account of his journey from Tennessee to the Red River and Natchitoches, and thence across Texas to San Antonio; including many hair-breadth escapes; together with a topographical, historical, and political view of Texas ... Written by Himself, T.K. and P.G. Collins, Philadelphia (1836). Supposedly Crockett’s journal taken at the Alamo by Mexican General Castrillón
    Manuel Fernández Castrillón
    Manuel Fernández Castrillón was a major general in the Mexican army of the 19th century. He was a close friend of General and Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Early life:Manuel Fernández Castrillón was born in Cuba...

     and then recovered at the Battle of San Jacinto
    Battle of San Jacinto
    The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

    , but in fact written by Richard Penn Smith
    Richard Penn Smith
    Richard Penn Smith was a minor American playwright who is best known for writing a largely fictitious account of events at and leading up to the Battle of the Alamo, which was presented as the work of Davy Crockett....

     and Charles T. Beale. The work has been called "ingenious pseudo-autobiography."

  • Maria Monk
    Maria Monk
    Maria Monk was a Canadian woman who claimed to have been a nun who had been sexually exploited in her convent...

     Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk: as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During a Residence of Five Years as a Novice, and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hôtel-Dieu Nunnery at Montreal, Howe & Bates, New York (1836). The book is a wildly sensationalistic story of life in a Montreal convent where nuns were forced to have sex with the priests in the seminary next door. The book may have been written by Theodore Dwight, John J. Slocum or William K. Hoyte.

  • Slavomir Rawicz, The Long Walk, is a false narrative derived from a true story told at last by a survivor.

  • Lorenzo Carcaterra
    Lorenzo Carcaterra
    Lorenzo Carcaterra is an American writer. Hell's Kitchen is the setting for his most famous book, Sleepers, which was adapted into the Sleepers...

    , Sleepers, contains a few real names and places with events lifted from other works or entirely fictionalized.

  • A. L. Finch's Child P.O.W.―A Memoir of Survival (three self-published US editions, 2007, 2008 and 2011), about a mother and child’s experience as internees in Japanese captivity in the Philippines during the Second World War, has been exposed as a fabricated account. Finch is the pen name of A. L. Peeples of Lakewood, WA. Also, the University of Puget Sound published a cover profile of Finch / Peeples in the Autumn 2009 edition of its alumni magazine Arches but later removed that edition from its website.