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JT Leroy Joins Great Literary Hucksters

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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THE NEW SHAKESPEARE? LeRoy

Literary fraudster Laura "JT LeRoy" Albert, who's being sued for fraud in federal court, got some unexpected help late yesterday, courtesy of the plaintiff in the case.

During his closing arguments, lawyer Gregory Curtner, who represents Antidote International Films, a company that signed a contract with LeRoy for the rights to make a feature film of her novel Sarah, compared Albert to Shakespeare. He also invoked literary giants like Melville and Shakespeare to prove his point that "authorship matters" and to bolster his claim that Albert's creation of the fictional author JT LeRoy was deceptive and fraudulent.

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"You think Shakespeare would be Shakespeare if he didn't write Shakespeare?" he asked before catching himself and clumsily concluding, "Whoever Shakespeare really is."

Some literary-minded jurors and members of the audience snickered. After all, the authorship of Shakespeare's works has been hotly debated for centuries, and many literary historians believe that the man was not the genius behind Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar. Some extremists have even suggested of late that the Bard was not even, in fact, responsible for Shakespeare in Love.

Photo: Getty Images

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