July 19, 2007 / 1:45 PM / 11 years ago

Publishers fail to spot plagiarized Jane Austen

LONDON (Reuters) - Even Jane Austen would have trouble finding a publisher today, a struggling author revealed Thursday.

Author Jane Austen's repackaged classic novels are seen in this handout image released by Headline Publishing January 17, 2006. Even Jane Austen would have trouble finding a publisher today, a struggling author revealed on Thursday. REUTERS/Headline Publishing/handout

David Lassman sent off to 18 publishers assorted chapters from Austen novels in which he changed just the titles and the names of the characters.

He called himself Alison Laydee after Austen’s early pseudonym “A Lady.”

Seventeen publishers rejected or ignored his bid for literary glory. Only one spotted the ruse and told him not to mimic “Pride and Prejudice” so closely.

Lassman, who decided on the experiment when struggling to get his own novel published, told British media: “Getting a novel accepted is very difficult today unless you have an agent first. But I had no idea of the scale of rejection poor old Jane suffered.”

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