Poet And The Murderer, The

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2015042620150502 (R4)In 1997, a newly discovered and previously unpublished poem by the much-loved American poet Emily Dickinson was auctioned in New York. There was great excitement at the idea that a new work by this iconic artist had come to light - as if a new Shakespeare Sonnet had been found locked in a trunk in a Stratford attic, or an unknown Picasso had been stumbled upon at a car boot sale.|After the poem was sold at auction and brought home to Emily Dickinson's home town of Amherst, with much fanfare, it was revealed to be a brilliant fake. It had been created by a man named Mark Hofmann, a convicted double murderer once dubbed the 'greatest forger of the 20th century'. He had not only matched the paper, handwriting and pencil with astounding historical accuracy, he had produced a new Dickinson work that passed off as authentic.|How was a convicted double murderer able to craft a poem so perfect that it fooled leading Emily Dickinson scholars and experts in historical documents? Dickinson famously lived much of her life as a recluse, producing her works of concentrated brilliance from the bedroom of her father's house in Amherst, Massachusetts. She chose not to publish during her lifetime and hand-sewn booklets containing some 1,800 poems were discovered in a locked box in her room after her death. Why does Dickinson continue to fascinate, and what might Hofmann's fake poem tell us about the true poet's work and life?|The writer and journalist Simon Worrall unfolds a gripping true story of poetry, murder and the art of forgery.
20150426In 1997, a newly discovered and previously unpublished poem by the much-loved American poet Emily Dickinson was auctioned in New York. There was great excitement at the idea that a new work by this iconic artist had come to light - as if a new Shakespeare Sonnet had been found locked in a trunk in a Stratford attic, or an unknown Picasso had been stumbled upon at a car boot sale.|After the poem was sold at auction and brought home to Emily Dickinson's home town of Amherst, with much fanfare, it was revealed to be a brilliant fake. It had been created by a man named Mark Hofmann, a convicted double murderer once dubbed the 'greatest forger of the 20th century'. He had not only matched the paper, handwriting and pencil with astounding historical accuracy, he had produced a new Dickinson work that passed off as authentic.|How was a convicted double murderer able to craft a poem so perfect that it fooled leading Emily Dickinson scholars and experts in historical documents? Dickinson famously lived much of her life as a recluse, producing her works of concentrated brilliance from the bedroom of her father's house in Amherst, Massachusetts. She chose not to publish during her lifetime and hand-sewn booklets containing some 1,800 poems were discovered in a locked box in her room after her death. Why does Dickinson continue to fascinate, and what might Hofmann's fake poem tell us about the true poet's work and life?|The writer and journalist Simon Worrall unfolds a gripping true story of poetry, murder and the art of forgery.