Forger down

Lee Israel has died.

“In the early 1990s, with her career at a standstill, she became a literary forger, composing and selling hundreds of letters that she said had been written by Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, Lillian Hellman and others.”

“… her forgeries were born less of avarice than of panic and began after a stretch of poor reviews and writer’s block, mixed with alcohol and improvidence… she possessed a temperament that made conventional employment nearly impossible.”

“Ms. Israel’s criminal career married scholarship, fabrication, forgery and outright theft. Using the research skills she had honed as a writer, she scoured her subjects’ memoirs for salient biographical details; their published letters for epistolary style; and their original, archived letters for typing idiosyncrasies. She bought a flock of period typewriters from secondhand shops and, on furtive library visits, tore blank sheets of vintage paper from the backs of old journals.”

Quotes from her obituary, by Margalit Fox, at the New York Times.

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