Tales of a forger

Here’s a cautionary tale about how a life of crime can be turned to the good. This forger of letters by Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker and even Humphrey Bogart has now found success with an original work telling her story:

American writer reveals how she conned experts with Noël Coward forgeries

Down on her luck and desperate for money, Lee Israel sold the phony missives – along with hundreds of other notes in the name of such American literary luminaries as Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman – to dealers in autographs and letters across the US.

To her delight, she captured the merciless wit and gossipy tone of the English playwright and actor with such pitch-perfect panache that two of her compositions ended up in the critically-acclaimed Letters of Noël Coward when it was published last year.

Miss Israel confesses all about the astonishing hoax in a highly entertaining, raucously honest and near-shameless memoir to be published next month, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (a title drawn from an invented line she penned for Parker).

In an interview in the chaotic Manhattan apartment from where she conducted her forgery racket, she told The Sunday Telegraph: “I loved doing Noël. I sat down with his diaries and a British dictionary and had a collection of Noëlisms for inspiration. He was so outré. It was such fun.”

Indeed, she considers the inclusion of the bogus billets in the new collection, a 10-year project edited by Barry Day, one of the world’s foremost experts on Coward, to be her greatest triumph. “For me, this was a big hoot and a terrific compliment,” she writes in her book. Read full article here…