Jane Goodall book postponed after plagiarism issues raised

Primatologist and author Jane Goodall at a January lecture in Nairobi, Kenya. Her upcoming book has been postponed.
(Dai Kurokawa / EPA)

Primatologist Jane Goodall and publisher Grand Central have announced they will delay publication of Goodall’s forthcoming tree-focused book “Seeds of Hope” in the wake of accusations that certain passages were plagiarized. The Washington Post noted the lack of attribution of certain passages last week.

“Together with my publisher, I have decided to postpone the release of my new book, SEEDS OF HOPE, so that we may have the necessary time to correct any unintentional errors,” Goodall said in a statement released Friday. “It is important to me that the proper sources are credited, and I will be working diligently with my team to address all areas of concern.”

The Post cited several passages in Goodall’s book that seemed to mirror various unattributed sources. According to that report, at least 12 sections of the book seemed to have been lifted from elsewhere. The book was written with contributor Gail Hudson, a freelance writer and editor who has collaborated with Goodall before.

Originally slated for April publication, “Seeds of Hope” examines “the role that trees and plants play in our world” and Goodall’s passion for conservation. Though Goodall is best known for her work with chimpanzees, she writes in the book that she has “spent a lifetime loving plants.” She has not, however, studied plants as a scientist, and according to the Post, it is in the sections that offer detailed information on plants that “borrowing” tended to occur.

Examples of the unattributed passages include sentences that echo word-for-word copy from the website for Choice Organic Teas, and from sites addressing the history of tobacco, astrology, beer, and nature. Several passages also appear to have been copied from Wikipedia.


In her statement, Goodall stated, “my goal is to ensure that when this book is released it is not only up to the highest of standards, but also that the focus be on the crucial messages it conveys. It is my hope that then the meaningful conversation can resume about the harm we are inflicting on our natural environment and how we can all act together to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a healthy planet.”

In an email to the Post, Goodall admitted her error, writing, “This was a long and well researched book, and I am distressed to discover that some of the excellent and valuable sources were not properly cited, and want to express my sincere apologies.”


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