Scholar with a history of making up author names has a 1985 paper corrected

A scholar who famously fabricated a meeting between Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky used a bogus name to publish a 1985 paper in the journal History –  and it was far from the first time. 

Arnold Harvey, also known as AD Harvey, apparently created a small (precisely how small is unclear) community of scholars, including Stephanie Harvey, Graham Headley, Trevor McGovern, John Schellenberger, Leo Bellingham, Michael Lindsay and Ludovico Parra, as well as the Latvian poet Janis Blodnieks. 

In a ruse outlined in this 2013 article for the Times Literary Supplement by Eric Naiman, of UC Berkeley, this fictitious klatch would critique each other’s papers. (Take note, peer review rings of the 2010s.)

As The Guardian wrote in a 2013 profile of Harvey that’s well worth a read:

over the past 30 years, this group had been commenting on one another’s work in scholarly journals and little magazines, sometimes praising one another but occasionally finding fault too.

The Guardian reported that: 

Harvey, who has written most of his books using the initials AD rather than his first name Arnold, which he dislikes, has been exposed in the Times Literary Supplement as the possessor of multiple identities in print, a mischief-maker who among other things had invented a fictitious meeting in 1862 between Dickens and Dostoevsky. This startling encounter was first written up by one Stephanie Harvey in the Dickensian, the magazine of the Dickens Fellowship, in 2002, and quickly hardened into fact, cited in Michael Slater’s biography of Dickens in 2009 and repeated by Claire Tomalin in her biography two years later.

Enter, eight years later, Michael Dougherty, chair of the philosophy department at Ohio Dominican University, in Columbus, who has something of an, ahem, history when it comes to this sort of thing. Dougherty relayed his concerns about the 1985 paper in History to the editor of the journal back in March, noting that: 

The true author of this article is A. D. Harvey, who has also published articles under his real name in the journal. The name “Stephen Harvey” is one of A. D. Harvey’s many pseudonyms. Harvey discussed his use of the pseudonym for this article in History with a journalist in a 2013 article in The Guardian, and in various online interviews. Not all readers of the article in History are aware that it was published under a pseudonym; it continues to receive citations with attribution to the pseudonym.

Per the notice, issued last month (but not linked from the original paper): 

The Editorial Board informs its readers that the following article in History was published under a pseudonym: Stephen Harvey, ‘The Italian war effort and the strategic bombing of Italy’, History, 70/228 (1985), pp. 32–45. The author is A. D. Harvey.

Harvey was responsible for a retraction – and an unorthodox one, at that – in History, this one dating back to 1988, before the age of PDFs (which is relevant for reasons that will soon become apparent). According to Naiman: 

In 1988 History was edited by W. A. Speck, then Professor of History at Leeds and a leading expert on late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain. Towards the end of that year, Speck took the extraordinary step of sending the journal’s subscribers a supplementary article by Howard Nenner, a professor at Smith College, which was printed on gummed pages. Subscribers were instructed to paste the article in over another article in the June issue of History. That contribution, “Conservative Ideology in Britain in the 1790s”, by Trevor McGovern, “so plagiarized a work by A. D. Harvey that it should have been ascribed to him”. Dr Speck apologized to subscribers for his lack of vigilance and thanked Professor Nenner for allowing his article to be published in this “unorthodox” manner. (This unique method of dissemination has had unexpected consequences in the digital age. Nenner’s contribution has no place in the Wiley digital library for History, where McGovern’s article continues to be available. Some libraries, including Swarthmore College’s, never gummed in the pages. Others, including those at Princeton and the University of Virginia, followed the journal’s suggestion, with the result that McGovern’s contribution was rendered inaccessible to anyone interested in the history of the journal itself.)

So why the deception? The Guardian reported that Harvey struggled unsuccessfully to land a university job some 700 times and was frustrated by what he perceived to be the cliquiness of the academy:

In condensed form, what he alleges is a conspiracy by history academics to turn him into a non-person. As evidence, he cites the way in which the Historical Association’s annual bulletin stopped including references to his publications. He also says he got the impression that the association’s quarterly journal, History, was turning down articles he submitted because they were by him. As a test, he sent them his article on the Italian war effort, researched while he was working in Italy, under the name Stephen Harvey. “I think I was perfectly entitled to do this,” he says. “If I was having work rejected because it had my name on it, I was entitled to send in a perfectly decent piece of work with another name.” It duly appeared, feeding Harvey’s suspicion that he was being singled out.

We were unable to find contact information for Harvey – or any of his pseudonyms.

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One thought on “Scholar with a history of making up author names has a 1985 paper corrected”

  1. I dug into this a little and found that Harvey submitted a purposefully false article to the TLS in 2014, then formally complained about it in order to get it retracted. Just to show he still could, I suppose.

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