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The Book Forger

The Book Forger

The true story of a literary crime that fooled the world


London, 1932. Thomas James Wise is the toast of the literary establishment. A prominent collector and businessman, he is renowned on both sides of the Atlantic for unearthing the most stunning first editions and bringing them to market. Pompous and fearsome, with friends in high places, he is one of the most powerful men in the field of rare books.

One night, two young booksellers - one a dishevelled former communist, the other a martini-swilling fan of detective stories - stumble upon a strange discrepancy. It will lead them to suspect Wise and his books are not all they seem. Inspired by the vogue for Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, the pair harness the latest developments in forensic analysis to crack the case, but find its extent is greater than they ever could have imagined. By the time they are done, their investigation will have rocked the book world to its core.

This is the true story of unlikely friends coming together to expose the literary crime of the century, and of a maverick bibliophile who forged not only books but an entire life, erasing his past along the way.


  • Spies, detectives, forgers, and The Case of the Kernless 'f'. Another superb piece of narrative scholarship from the best storyteller in book history
    Dennis Duncan, author of INDEX: A HISTORY OF THE

About the author

Joseph Hone

Joseph Hone is a prize-winning writer and academic specialising in the history of the book. He studied and taught at Oxford, before holding fellowships at Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale. He is the author of The Paper Chase, which was longlisted for the HWA Non-Fiction Crown, and The Book Forger, publishing in 2024. In 2022 he was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Languages and Literatures. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and son, and spends much of his time either on the coast or scrabbling around in second-hand bookshops.
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