A True Story of Literary Crime and the Art of Forgery

The Praise
“A gripping tale, done with great style and elegance …it held me in its spell from beginning to end.”
– William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice.

“What a story! I found Simon Worrall’s wonderful book utterly enthralling. I read it at one sitting and learned all sorts of things from its multitudes of fascinations. To have crafted a book that manages to connect the poignant solitude of Emily Dickinson with the bizarre beliefs of the Mormon church, and by way of tales of bombings, bankruptcy and counterfeiting, is the mark of a truly superb talent.”
– Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman.

“A terrific story, terrifically told.”
– New York Daily News

“A spellbinding tale of genius irretrievably marred by greed and madness.
– The Star-Ledger

“An astonishing tale! Enthralling! All this makes for an even more engrossing yarn than that told in The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
Financial Times

“All forgery involves a partnership between those willing to deceive and those susceptible to deception. But who would have thought that such a partnership would exist between Emily Dickinson scholars and the Mormon church on one hand, and a strange compulsive and murderous iconoclast, Mark Hofmann, on the other. The forgery of handwritten documents involves a double forgery: the forgery of the way words “look” and what they “mean.” Hofmann was a master of both. Worrall has done a masterful job of telling this story from “both” sides. But he also reminds us that writing contains a deep and dark mystery, the mystery of authorship”
– Errol Morris, director of The Thin Blue Line

“An adventurous and sensational narrative.”
– Peter Ackroyd, The London Times.

“Simon Worrall’s book is a cracking tale: the labyrinthine story he uncovers is beautifully paced and as complex as any conspiracy theory: a work of non-fiction, it reads like a thriller. ”
The Guardian

“Simon Worrall takes us on a wild ride through a variety of topics: Dickinson’s life, Mormonism, rare book dealing, famous literary forgeries, the biological mechanics of handwriting, self-hypnotism, the history of American printing and the near-criminal, sloppiness of auction-house
authentications…His enthusiasm and his instinct for just the detail a reader wants to know make him an excellent, engaging guide through this complicated territory…he’s a keen hard-working investigator, and the story he tell is fascinating.”
The Washington Post

“…a terrific book, a compulsive page-turner, and real eye-opener.”
Providence Sunday Journal

“A true crime standout.”

The Press
Times Online

The Village Voice


The Paris Review


Guardian Unlimited,4273,3983469,00.html

Wisconsin Public Radio