Apparently, scams and con artists are nothing new but Emile Zola, the French novelist, playwright, journalist, a major figure in the political liberalization of France, and a Nobel Prize in Literature nominee teaches us how to handle such situations.
The agent of the forthcoming county history called upon Zola, the novelist.
“Of course,” he said, “you can’t afford to have you biography omitted from a work like this. You will want your picture in it, and it will cost us $25 to have it engraved. You can write the biography yourself, and we’ll run it in just as you write it. All you have to pay will be the $25, and we give you a copy of the work free of charge. We wouldn’t do that for everybody, I can tell you, but we want to do what we can to boost you along and help to get the name of Emile Zola enrolled in the list of the immorales.”
“My name is Emile Zola, all right,” said the novelist, “but I’m not quite so E. Z. as that.”
And he kicked him out.
|Émile Zola [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Thanks for the humorous story Emile. Now the only question from this critical genealogist is this: Is this a case of fact or fiction? Stories like these are how family legends begin.
(Article appeared in The Tacoma Daily News: Tacoma, Washington on 8 March 1904 but seems to be a reprint from the Chicago Tribune.)