Henry Buxton Forman

(1842—1917) bibliographer and forger

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Thomas James Wise (1859—1937) book collector and forger

William Morris (1834—1896) designer, author, and visionary socialist

forgeries, literary


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Forman wrote poetry, fiction, and criticism, before editing Shelley (1876–80) and Keats (1883). His edition of Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne (1876) was controversial but influential, and Forman produced several standard scholarly editions and a bibliography of W. Morris (1897). His contributions to textual scholarship are tainted by his ‘creative forgeries’, privately printed copies of genuine works purporting to have been printed at earlier dates or in unusual locations. For example, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese first appeared among her collected poems in 1850, but Forman caused them to be printed in a pamphlet supposedly appearing at Reading in 1847. In partnership with Wise, Forman directed the production of dozens of similar fakes, which were sold to collectors and which affected the bibliography of most major Victorian writers from Dickens to Ruskin. The systematic nature of these forgeries was not discovered until 1934; some may remain undetected. See alsofalse dates; forgeries and hoaxes.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.

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