Misha Defonseca, Vera Lee
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Memorable literary hoaxes

Misha Defonseca, Vera Lee
“Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years” (1997)

Misha Defonseca, left, with her co-writer Vera Lee, has since said that her real name is Monique De Wael and that she never fled her home in Brussels during World War II to find her parents. She said they were arrested and killed by Nazis as Belgian resistance fighters. (John Blanding, Associated Press)
“A Million LIttle Pieces,” 2003

James Frey’s bestselling “memoir,” an Oprah Winfrey book club pick, was revealed to be largely a fabrication in January 2006 by the Smoking Gun website. (George Burns, Associated Press)
“A Million Little Pieces,” 2003

The website disproved James Frey’s claim to have been jailed for crashing his car while drunk and high on crack cocaine, then hitting a police officer. Frey later said he was having trouble selling his fiction project and instead turned it into a memoir. (Gino Domenico, Associated Press)
JT leroy
JT LeRoy

The HIV-positive former drug addict and hustler in his 20s was found to be New York writer Laura Albert, who saaid she invented the androgynous personal of LeRoy in therapy a few days after the Frey hoax was revealed. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times)
Film still
JT LeRoy

The elaborate hoax lasted several years through numerous books, including the bestselling novels “Sarah” and “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.”

Jimmy Bennett and Asia Argento star in the film version of “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” (Palm Pictures)
“Burning Down My Master’s House”

Former journalist Jayson Blair wrote this book in which he details his lies and deceptions as a journalist at the New York Times. (Los Angeles Times)
“Burning Down My Master’s House”

Katie Couric interviews former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair on “Dateline NBC” in 2004. (NBC)
Binjamin Wilkomirski
“Fragments,” 1996

Binjamin Wilkomirski’s memoir recalled the horror of life in two Nazi death camps in Poland and won the National Jewish Book Award for autobiography. He was really Bruno Grosjean Dessekker, born in Switzerland and raised there by adoptive parents. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)
“Fragments,” 1996

Binjamin Wilkomirski, at about age 10, as shown in his false memoir. (handout copy, xx)
“A Rock and a Hard Place” (1993)

The 14-year-old HIV-positive author --Anthony Godby Johnson --described enduring ritual sexual abuse, but curious reporters noticed that the writing in the book was similar to that of his so-called foster mother, Vicki Fraginals. One of his biggest supporters, Armistead Maupin, in photo, wrote about the betrayal in his 2000 novel, “The Night Listener.” (Robert Durell, Los Angeles Times)
Forger Konrad Kujau in 1990
“The Hitler Diaries,” 1983

Konrad Kujau, in photo, in partnership with Gerd Heidemann, forged the book. (Joaquim E. Rottgers)
“The Hitler Diaries,” 1983

Hugh Trevor-Roper, shown here in 1958, is a Hitler authority who mistakenly verified forged diaries. (Associated Press)
Janet Cooke

The Washington Post writer won a Pulitzer Prize for her Septebmer 1980 story, “Jimmy’s World,” a profile of an 8-year-old heroin addict. Two days after she received the Pulitzer, the newspaper’s editor announced that was an elaborate hoax. (ABC)
Clifford Irving
Clifford Irving

The author, shown here in 1971 with his sixth wife Julie, took $750,000 to write a fake biography of the reclusive Howard Hughes. (Courtesy of Clifford Irving)