Lenore Hart and her publisher, St Martin’s Press, claim that any "similarities" between her novel The Raven’s Bride and Cothburn O’Neal’s The Very Young Mrs. Poe can be put down to both writers having drawn on the "same limited historical record".
Fine. In that case, given that in their respective novels O’Neal and Hart describe in practically identical terms how their protagonist, Virginia "Sissy" Poe née Clemm, once sat alone by the fire and thought about her relationship with her husband, likening it to the alternately broadening and narrowing course of a river and its alternately calm and turbulent waters,* one of these two statements must necessarily be true:
(A) Virginia, unbeknownst to Poe scholars the world over, left a secret diary to which the two novelists have enjoyed privileged access. Both included the same fireside river-simile scene in their novels because it is a documented historical event. They know what she was thinking because she wrote it in this diary.
(B) Lenore Hart is a brazen plagiarist. Her publisher and the institutions where she teaches are — by their continued inaction — tacitly condoning her deceit, her lies and her intellectual theft.
So, St Martin’s Press, the Norman Mailer Center/Writers Colony and Wilkes University, which is it? A or B?
It’s your call. And your reputation. (Hers, as you must surely know by now, is a lost cause.)
Update - 20 December 2011
The Norman Mailer Center announced today - i.e. within 48 hours of this mess being drawn to their attention - that they have asked Lenore Hart to take leave of absence from their next workshop, where she had been scheduled to teach. St Martin's Press, meanwhile, seven months on, continue with their la-la-la-can't-hear-you strategy. This isn't going to end well.
* See the latest inventory of plagiarised passages found (No. 25).