Thursday, May 07, 2009

HG Wells and plagiarism

An recent opinion piece in niagarathisweek recounts the story of plagiarism asserted against HG Wells by Florence Deeks.

The story had been recounted in: The Spinster and the Prophet: H.G. Wells, Florence Deeks, and the Case of the Plagiarized Text, by A.B. McKillop.

Reviewing the book, William Bruneau wrote:

It's clear by the end (408) that nobody - judges, lawyers, historians - had a firm grip on either the theory or the practice of intellectual property, and that Florence Deeks's legal tangles with Wells were doomed. Her "voice" was at any rate almost inaudible from start to finish. Once her case reached the stage of pure legalism, that is, from the first stage of appeal onward, she had little hope of success. The key moments were at the first trial, at Osgoode Hall in 1929. After that, Deeks was in for it, seen as "obsessed" by her hopeless cause. She could rely on her family and few others, a circumstance that must have encouraged McKillop to write a whole chapter (378-408) on problems of voice, authority, and power, complete with his own reconstruction of what may have happened in 1919-1920 at Macmillan. McKillop's use of sometimes rebarbative and theory-laden feminist work in history is impressive and stimulating. Here again, McKillop has done a service to the field and for the public, writing so as to invite the scrutiny and participation of generally-educated readers, not just historians.

And IPBiz thought it was only professors at Stanford Law who lacked a firm grip on IP (or history)!


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