Woman's Hour brought to book over spoof

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The Independent Online
THE ADAPTATION of Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-65, by Cleone Knox, began on Woman's Hour on Monday. The programme even interviewed Caroline Harris, an actress, who found the book in a second-hand shop and saw it as a wonderful serial, relating the adventures of an Irish seamstress, writes Maggie Brown.

The only problem is that the book was written in the 1920s by Madeleine King-Hall, using the pen name Cleone Knox, and her publisher decided to promote it as an authentic 18th-century diary.

It fooled a lot of people then, and it fooled Woman's Hour too, although Jenni Murray, the presenter, was sceptical about the racy language during the interview with Ms Harris.

Only after the serialisation started did listeners contact the BBC. They included Commander Richard Perceval-Maxwell, the author's son, who was interviewed on Woman's Hour yesterday.

The BBC says, in its defence, that the Folio Society published an edition in 1982, even though reference books explain that Cleone Knox and Madeleine King- Hall are the same person, and very much part of the 20th century.

A Radio 4 spokeswoman said yesterday: 'We are really quite proud of our listeners.' The BBC will continue with the diary - it makes good listening.