Events & Exhibits - Spring 2007

Exhibit Examines Literary Hoaxes

The Weinberg Library is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibit Harmless to Homicidal: A Collection of Hoaxes and Literary Forgeries from the Library of Stephen R. Pastore. Stephen Pastore is a book collector and bibliographer.  He is the author of Sinclair Lewis: A Descriptive Bibliography: A Collector's and Scholar's Guide to Identification, and A Collector's Guide to the Works of Thomas Hardy : A Bibliographical Study.
Harmless to Homicidal will present a history of forgeries including a titulus supposedly used at the Crucifixion, an early printed book documenting the forgery of the treasonous letters of Mary Queen of Scots, a first edition of James Macpherson's Ossian poems, one of the only William Ireland forged Shakespeare letters in private hands, a Revolutionary war pass "signed" by George Washington, a letter of Lord Byron forged by Wilkes-Barre resident and purported Byron descendent Major George Byron, an Emily Dickinson poem forged by master forger and Mormon murderer Mark Hoffman, and many other forgeries of noted literary and historical figures.
Also included are literary hoaxes such as the Spectra Hoax (1916) wherein a couple of Romantic poets disillusioned with early modernist poetry, created a literary magazine with purposely obtuse poems intended to mock T.S. Eliot and other modernist poets. Instead, the new poetry journal was praised by critics. Another hoax exhibited involved the creation of what turned out to be the best-selling novel Naked Came the Stranger supposedly written by Penelope Ashe in 1969 but actually composed by various members of the staff of Newsday in a successful attempt to create a purposely horrible novel to show how far standards of taste had fallen in America. A rare pirated copy of Clifford Irving's fabricated Autobiography of Howard Hughes will also be exhibited.
A catalog, which discusses the historical context for each of the forgeries and hoaxes, will be available. The exhibit will run February 12 through April 22.
Michael Knies