Prolific literary forger Lee Israel has died at 75. She had published several biographies but in the 1980s with her career going nowhere, she began researching the lives of such writers as Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Lillian Hellman, reading their known letters, buying old typewriters and then forging plausible-seeming fakes that libraries, archives, and dealers would purchase.
She might’ve gone on doing this indefinitely, but she became too bold and greedy, stealing real letters from archives, replacing them with facsimiles she’d fashioned, then selling the originals. That larceny put autograph dealer David H. Lowenherz (whose books I once edited) and the FBI on her trail. Read the New York Times obit for the whole movie-worthy story, and don’t miss the amusing correction at the end of the Times story online.