The other day, I accidentally stumbled across a quote on Google Books that made my blood pressure rise. Here it is:
"Spring had come early this year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood sappling [sic] with white stars the backdrop about the farm and off into the hills."
The catch? This isn't labeled as being written by one Margaret Mitchell and belonging to a book called Gone with the Wind. No, sir. This one is from a book called Clay Allison written by a F. Stanley and originally published in 1956. As you can imagine, this book is a biography of the famous "shootist" Robert "Clay" Allison, and the chapter in question is devoted to describing life in his native Tennessee at the outbreak of the Civil War. Compare to what Margaret Mitchell had written a solid twenty years earlier:
"Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter I
Now, unless changing a "that" for a "this" and misspelling "dappling" qualify as originality, we're obviously looking at a clear case of plagiarism. Googling for the guilty author proved largely unsuccessful, but you have all you need to know in this short quote from the introduction to Clay Allison:
"As a professional historian, I've often been asked my opinion of the author who wrote under the pen name, F. Stanley. According to his 1996 obituary, he published 190 books and booklets on New Mexico history, quite a record by any standard. The problem is, F. Stanley has been almost universally condemned for the innumerable flaws that litter his writing."--Mark Simmons, The Controversial F. Stanley
Apparently, this F. Stanley was famous for sloppy historical research and even sloppier prose (I guess he couldn't use that of other people all the time). I haven't seen anyone in the studies that serve as introduction for that book accuse him of plagiarism, but it should obviously be added to the list.
F. Stanley humbly admitted to his faults and said something along the lines of "pardon the mistakes, but say a kind word for my effort." Well, guess what, Father Stanley? I don't think we will. I don't think we will.