Story at a glance:

  • Former teacher turned author Blake Bailey stands accused of inappropriate conduct by former students.
    • One student said he raped her when she was 22.
    • His book was well received by critics.

A book publisher is stopping its production of a bestseller because the author is accused of sexual misconduct, including rape. 

United States publisher WW Norton is no longer printing Philip Roth's biography by author Blake Bailey, The Guardian reported.


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Bailey, a former teacher at Lusher Middle School in New Orleans in the 1990s, is accused of inappropriate and manipulative behavior, with one former student named Eve Crawford Peyton accusing him of raping her when she was 22.

"These stories have been whispered about for decades or shared over a glass of wine by former students, who all thought they were the only ones. His behavior was something of an open secret, and it absolutely followed a pattern and was textbook grooming, but no one ever said anything," Peyton wrote in a letter for The Los Angeles Times. "To be fair, he never did anything then, not in eighth grade. But he laid the groundwork. With dirty jokes, sly comments, hugs that went on slightly too long, encouraging us to share our personal lives once we moved on to high school ('Write to me about your latest slap-and-tickle')."

Bailey's UK publisher, Vintage, part of Penguin Random House, continues to publish the book, though it is aware of what is happening.

"These are extremely serious and concerning allegations made against Blake Bailey. At this stage they are allegations, and we continue to publish Philip Roth: The Biography," the Vintage spokesperson said. "We are assessing the situation closely."

According to The Washington Post, Bailey has denied the allegations.

His lawyer told the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate: “Mr Bailey has never acted inappropriately with any student and has never received any complaints about his time at Lusher more than 20 years ago … It is absurd to suggest that he was grooming students for anticipated encounters as adults many years later. The allegations in your email are false, hurtful descriptions of conduct between adults. Mr Bailey has never treated a woman inappropriately and has never forced himself on a woman.”

The Post notes that Bailey is an accomplished writer, having left his teaching career and successfully won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography in 2009 and being a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

His latest project was also getting good reception, as reported by The Post, which called it "a colorful, confident and uncompromising biographical triumph."

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Published on Apr 22, 2021