A Beatrix Potter manuscript was just “discovered,” and I predicted that after GO SET A WATCHMAN there would be a number of “remarkable” finds around the corner. This has proved to be the case, and there will be more. I wouldn’t even doubt if the book by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John has a supplement. Perhaps by David or Timothy. Please don’t write me, as it could happen. Especially since lost books of the Bible already exist (I own two of them).
Books by Bram Stoker, Michael Crichton, and an entire group of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald are now being banded about as recently unearthed. I don’t use the archeological reference loosely, It appears this material genuinely achieved recrudescence. At least new books under the name of Robert Ludlum clearly inform book buyers of the real author, since Mr. Ludlum passed away in 2001. Likewise, James Patterson now credits, in large print, whomever has written a story under his name.
Undeniably, a story ostensibly written by a deceased, famous author attracts an immediate audience. Some material, however, even by the greats in the world of letters, does not qualify as even marginal prose. A portion of Hemingway’s later work, as well as Fitzgerald’s final novel, THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON (which was a partial), I believe support my contention. I am not disputing the legitimacy of the recently discovered Beatrix Potter manuscript. Nor am I saying the Ms. Potter’s book doesn’t make the grade as top-notch work.
But finding material this late in the game can and should raise an eyebrow or two. And the scenario becomes particularly hard to ignore when a spate of great writers’ works flood the market in a short time frame. I’m not good a predicting, but I did nail this one some time ago–unfortunately.