The Ern Malley Affair: Introduction by Robert Hughes
In October 1943, the young and successful Australian literary editor, Max Harris, received a package of poems by a recently deceased poet, Ern Malley, forwarded to him by his sister Ethel.
Convinced he had hit upon the work of a Modernist genius, a poet of whom Australia could be proud, Harris published Malley's poems in his magazine, Angry Penguins. With copies despatched around the world and grand claims surrounding publication, Harris had no idea of the events that lay in store; the consequences of which would haunt the literary landscape for generations.
Michael Heyward's compelling account of perhaps the most famous literary hoax of the twentieth century reproduces in their entirety, the seventeen poems published as 'The Darkening Ecliptic' in the magazine, Angry Penguins.
'As Michael Heyward explains in his exceptional book . . . the Ern Malley affair dramatises, more luridly than any other literary episode, the question which is in the minds of the audience of any work of modern art; the question of whether what they're being invited to admire is, in fact, in some sense, fake.' John Lanchester, Guardian
'A thoroughly researched narrative of the whole saga . . . tells the story very well indeed, with wit and style.' Ian Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement