'Ghostwriters': Spiritualists, Copyright Infringement, and Rights of Publicity
Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center
January 29, 2009
LAW AND MAGIC: A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, Christine A. Corcos, ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2009
In 1917, British-born editor and publisher Mitchell Kennerley (1878-1950) offered for sale Jap Herron, a new novel which he implied was written by the eminent Mark Twain. There was no author's name on the title page, but the frontispiece was a portrait of Mark Twain. This book included an introduction by St. Louis journalist and author Emily Grant Hutchings explaining the odd origins of the novel. Indeed, they were odd - Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, had been dead for six years, and the manuscript of Jap Herron was not some old piece of fiction he had left behind in a desk to be discovered after his demise. In her preface, Mrs. Hutchings claimed that Twain, to whom she referred familiarly as Mark, and whom she had met during his life, had dictated the book, as well as two short stories, to her through a Ouija Board, that is, through spirit communication via a board labeled with the alphabet, and with the assistance of a spirit medium, Mrs. Lola V. Hays.
Keywords: copyright, legal history, Mark Twain, spiritualism
Date posted: January 31, 2009
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