WISE (THOMAS JAMES) Autograph letter signed ("Thomas J. Wise"), to Mr Nordau, William Andrew Clark's bibliographer, denouncing in considerable detail and the roundest terms a faked-up copy of Byron's Euthanasia, 1930
Lot 129*
WISE (THOMAS JAMES) Autograph letter signed ("Thomas J. Wise"), to Mr Nordau, William Andrew Clark's bibliographer, denouncing in considerable detail and the roundest terms a faked-up copy of Byron's Euthanasia, 1930
Sold for £875 (US$ 1,428) inc. premium

Lot Details
WISE (THOMAS JAMES)
Autograph letter signed ("Thomas J. Wise"), to Mr Nordau, William Andrew Clark's bibliographer, denouncing in considerable detail and the roundest terms a faked-up copy of Byron's Euthanasia, concluding: "To suggest that Byron would privately print such a jumble is childish. Whoever manufactured this Fake (& I feel certain I can name the man) was not quite clever enough. The strange thing to me is, that he should have taken you in! Of course I shall damn the thing out & out in my coming Byron Bibliography. You jump to conclusions too easily. You say 'This was issued', &c. A statement for which there is not an atom of evidence", 4 pages, headed paper, 8vo, Heath Drive, 3 August 1930

Footnotes

  • 'WHOEVER MANUFACTURED THIS FAKE': THOMAS J. WISE DENOUNCES A FORGED BOOK, acquired by the founder of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. Bruce Whiteman, a later Clark Librarian, describes this episode: 'Wise once described himself in a letter as "the most modest of men," a statement which is either a whopping lie or a perhaps characteristic example of how the variety of sociopath attracted to forgery and related crime is unable to judge his own self. He constructed his cover with care, and that care included missing no opportunity to excoriate bibliographical criminality in others. William Andrews Clark and his staff had an extensive correspondence with Wise over Clark's acquisition of a rare Byron piece entitled Euthanasia (1812), which Clark had bought bound with a Byron letter presenting a book, though probably not that book. Both book and letter are genuine, but when Clark sent it to Wise for examination, the latter fulminated about the bookseller who had, he said, faked a connection between the two. "I have exposed & denounced in the plainest possible terms the action of the scoundrel who produced the 'Fake,' and who imposed his fabrication upon Mr. Clark." Clark's staff was rather overwhelmed by the vehemence of Wise's prose on this subject, as well they might have been. Surely here the guilty conscience of the forger betrayed itself in an unnecessarily thunderous condemnation of a piece that was only marginally misrepresented. In retrospect, Wise's brimstone is like the tell-tale heart' (review of Roger C. Lewis, Thomas James Wise and the Trial Book Fallacy, 1995, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, Autumn 1997, Vol. 35 no. 2, p. 215).
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