Beyond "Harry Potter": 5 interesting tales of plagiarism
J.K. Rowling is only one of many well-known authors to face charges of plagiarism.
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– Plagiarism charges against two books by Doris Kerns Goodwin. In 2002, two different sets of plagiarism charges were made against Doris Kerns Goodwin. In January of that year, The Weekly Standard argued that she had borrowed material for her book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" from three other books. Then, in August, a Los Angeles Times story noted that passages from her book "No Ordinary Time," about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, appeared to have been borrowed from other works. Many in the literary community stood by Goodwin, insisting that she had done no wrong. Some of her critics, however, remained unconvinced.Skip to next paragraph
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– Charges that Stephen Ambrose was guilty of plagiarism in several works. Popular historian Stephen Ambrose was first accused of plagiarism in 2002 by The Weekly Standard, which charged that Ambrose had taken several passages in his book "The Wild Blue" from a book called "Wings of Morning" by American academic Thomas Childers. Ambrose denied the charges, but further investigation of his work led to accustations involving several other of his books.
– Charges that a young author copied from two older writers. Kaavya Viswanathan was only a sophomore at Harvard University when she was hit with plagiarism charges. Her novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" was compared to "Can You Keep a Secret" by Sophie Kinsella and two novels – "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings" – by Megan McCafferty. In the case of the McCafferty books, the works' publisher, Crown, said that more than 40 passages had been copied by Viswanathan. As a result, all copies of "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed" were recalled by its publisher, which also canceled Viswanathan's two-book contract. A planned film version of the book was also canceled. Viswanathan remained at Harvard, from which she graduated with honors in 2008.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.