Fake memoirs form a category of literary forgery in which a wholly or partially fabricated autobiography, memoir, or journal of an individual is presented as fact. Often, the purported author of the work also is fabricated.
In recent years, there have been a number of such memoirs published by major houses, some of which were well received critically and even became best sellers, but which subsequently were shown to be partly or completely fabricated.
In Love and Consequences, published in March 2008 by Penguin Group USA imprint Riverhead Books, author Margaret B. Jones writes about growing up as a half-white, half-Native American girl in South-Central Los Angeles in the foster home of Big Mom. One of her foster brothers, she writes, was gunned down by Crips gang members outside their home. Jones also writes of carrying illegal guns and selling drugs for the Bloods gang.
Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is white and grew up in a well-off area of San Fernando Valley in California with her biological family, The New York Times says. She did not graduate from the University of Oregon as she claimed.
Papillon is a memoir written by convicted felon, Henri Charrière, in which he related the tale of his adventures in various prisons and penal colonies throughout French Guiana and its environs. The book was a runaway bestseller when it was released in France in 1969, was translated into over 15 languages, and was made into a 1973 movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. When Charrière shopped the book, it was intended as a novel, but he was convinced to sell it as a personal memoir by his publisher, Robert Laffont. Nevertheless, Charrière insisted to the public that the entire book was true for the rest of his life.
Carlos Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his training in traditional Mesoamerican shamanism, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan, University of California Press (1968). His 12 books have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. It is disputed whether his stories are truthful or fabricated.